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March 14, 2006

I'm a Cynical Optimist I

Contradictory? Hardly! Read on gentle reader. I'm cynical, wary about what I read, especially on the internet. I read it on the internet, so it must be true. I'm optimistic, hopeful that this country of ours can tell right from wrong... even if it's for self serving ends.

I was reading Bernard Weiner's essay, Bush is Going Down. It's certainly an enjoyable read for me, but I can't say how much of it is factual. The highlights certainly jibe with multiple, straight-up, no op-ed news articles I have read (well, assuming that straight-up, no op-ed news articles are not too heavily doctored these days.) Much has been made of Republican Congresspersons distancing themselves from the Bush Administration. Much has been made of the Bush's poll numbers. Much has been made of neoconservative "thinkers" backing away from the President. Not as much has been made, though it should be, of Big Business backing away from the President.

When Bush was "elected" into office in 2000, I predicted to The Countess (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!) that he'd be ridden out on a rail in two to three years. Wishful thinking I'm sure, but it was also based on an examination of this man's credentials and management history (no, I'm not a psychic, I just took the time to really find out about the man... as so many people did not do.). Actually, I still stand by what I said, even though it is obviously past the expiration date for the prediction and he has a second election under his belt. The dastardy and unforgivable terrorist attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers created a political time shift, a free pass for Bush which has lasted several years. Now we find ourselves where I think we should have been per my prediction.

Congress... self-serving. Power and politcis is an addiction and those folks will do anything, say anything, and bend with the strongest wind to survive. Nuff said about them, besides, others have done a better job than your humble narrator.

The neoconservative thinkers (and I don't mean the wingnut op-ed folks) are a more interesting situation. I do not believe they are out and out evil or bad... not most of them anyway. I think they believe in what they say as a way to honestly better this country. I just happen to disagree with their means to that end. I think it is very telling (obviously) that even they see what Bush is doing as wrong and is perverting their ideas. In fact, we do need these thinkers to do what they do, because in a democracy all sides need to be heard, all sides need to contribute, all sides need to be equal for the whole thing to work. Extremism from either side is not good for the body politc.

The poll numbers... well, statistics are a funny animal and can be twisted in many ways, and the data is only as good as the questions asked. However, taking them at face value (sometimes dangerous) it coincides with my view that US is made up of people who, through tradition and custom are in the main, good and decent people and who can and will do the right thing.

Our tradition of democracy should not be underestimated. Just as it is very hard to bring democracy to a country with no history or even desire of it, such as Iraq, it is equally hard to go the other way and impose a dictatorship or imperium on folks with many centuries of democratic traditions and a strong desire for it. A few folks have talked about Germany's pre-World War II silde into Nazism, but that's a scare tactic. Germany never had a real democratic tradition and the Weimar Republic became the butt of all jokes. Indeed, it took total war and the first-hand evidence of what Hitler did to shake up the collective conciousness of Germans. The extreme political and religious (more on this group in the next installment) wingnuts will continue to exist on the fringe. Yes, they are opportunistic bastards who, like the camel trying to enter the tent, try to inch their way in through every concievable method. But, big BUT, their extreme fringe views will always come out as repugnant in the end. Some of us may see it sooner, we may have to endure years of it, we may, sadly, suffer from it (in the short term) but once the critical mass is reached, they, their ideas, and their works will always be beaten back under the rock from which they came from.

That's what the poll numbers are saying to me. These fringe malcontents are starting to "awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve" (from Admiral Yamamoto in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! A good line even if he didn't actually say that.) In reality, from the time Yamamoto spent in Washington D.C. as a Japanese naval attache, he did learn that the American people are just and decent and who can wreak terrible wrath on their oppressors... they just need to be awakened... and they'll wake on their schedule, not ours. It is, however, our job to continue to speak out and (like Deanna Troi) point to the obvious. Seriously, who here actually thinks that the American people would actually allow a Theocracy (for example) to come into being? No, no matter the scare mongering of one side or the fondest, most wishful thinking of the other side will that ever happen. I do believe in the American people.

And, Big Business. Most self-serving by definition. Allegedly, the biggest beneficiaries of the last five years. However, real businesses demand and need competent leadership to remain successful. They also need consumers who are reasonably well off and satisfied to generate profits. I would allege that over the long haul, and for purely selfish reasons, even businesses have our best interests at stake for their own continued survival and prosperity.

For the Wall Street Journal to even play around with the idea of equivocating about Bush is a really big deal. What I see between the lines is that he's starting to hurt them. Sure, the alliance with big money and fundamentalist religious bigots was OK as long as the latter had no impact on the former. Sure, the Imperial Presidency was OK as long as that Imperium was only in Bush's head and did not spill over into reality by trying to neuter Congress (what use are all the lobbied to and paid for Congersspeople if their legislation can be ignored by a President who only listens to a higher voice and is already deeply in someone's pocket anyway.) The point is that not all businesses have benefitted, just a handful of close friends have been getting the majority of the direct largesse. The rest rely on beneficial legislation... you know, legislation that could be ignored if Bush chose to or was told to.

Since politics depends heavily on money these days, this last part, to my naive eyes, is the straw that has broken this particularly nasty-ass camel's back. Yes, we are past the point of no return, the ship's come in, we've turned the corner, and <insert your own really dumb or sappy cliche here>.

So, ever yours, I'm cynically optimistic,

The Count

Posted on March 14, 2006 at 11:29 AM | Permalink