Doug Giebel: All The Dogs Came Running
All The Dogs Came Running
The Absence of
by Doug Giebel
"Nothing to be done." -- Waiting for Godot
Thoughtful Americans are beginning to come around to the belief that American politics and political discourse are nothing more than overbearing burdens of sound and fury signifying only that, in the word's of Samuel Beckett's creation, "there's nothing left to show."
Political hypocrisy and lying are universally accepted as inevitable, even necessary. Excessive secrecy, deception, linguistic manipulation that would have astounded George Orwell, the tacit yet open acceptance of torture, the denial of human rights, of civil rights -- of common sense -- even of religion -- all are now infected by egregious political hubris.
Of members of congress and the senate, nearly half have legal backgrounds. When these same legislators chose to craft a bill demanding "de novo" review in federal court of the Terri Schiavo tragedy, they did so while fully aware that such a review would fail. And yet they pressed agendas for clearly-political reasons, concealing from the public their knowledge of an outcome their legal educations and experiences told them would surely result.
The Schiavo case has been exhaustively investigated, reviewed and litigated in Florida courts. The U.S. Supreme Court had previously refused to accept appeals on behalf of Terri Schiavo's parents. Most important, perhaps, lawyers in the House and Senate along with their own legal advisors were aware, as many voters were not, that "de novo" review is rarely granted, and of the Supreme Court's aversion to dealing with "right-to-die"and "right-to-life" issues, preferring instead for states to resolve such disputes.
The public was hoodwinked by political grandstanding into a belief there was serious hope our federal courts would willingly accept a matter quite fully-litigated in state courts. The hyper-ventilated politicians on both sides of the aisle new better. They persisted in their fawning charade and curried favor with "religious" voters whose presumed omnipotence to swing an election is taken for granted. Whatever their personal sympathies for the unfortunate Terri Sciavo, political desires triumphed over decency, honesty and common sense.
Our politicians expend great energy and bogus sincerity to convince voters they can solve problems such as those faced by Social Security into the infinite future. With straight faces, they claim that a steadily-rising national debt can be made whole by continually slashing the government's income from taxes. While advocating such chimeras, these same duplicitous defenders of greed excoriate unfortunate citizens who fail to keep their own financial accounts under control, telling them they mustn't borrow beyond their means to repay. All this while granting aggressive and usurious lenders more opportunities to gouge those least able to pay their debts.
With slimy sanctimony befitting the most opportunistic Dickens character, our political leaders slobber for acceptance by the rich, the powerful -- prostrating themselves missionary position in exchange for donations to their ever-costlier election campaigns.
Smooching and schmoozing are coupled with what must surely be some of the most outrageously-excessive, loud and abusive political language the nation has ever known, particularly that dished out by right-wing radical radio and television call-in "hosts" who should be required to register as agents of their favored political party. It is through these ubiquitous free-speech programs (Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, etc.) where "sound and fury" are most evident.
Why the incessant harangues meant to incense listeners, mislead voters and provide a no-cost outlet for those supposedly elected to represent the American people? Because it provides a belching smoke screen meant to hide the absence of an interest in seriously, rationally coming to terms with our national dilemma. Because there is nothing else to be done.
The truth is, most men and women we elect to office haven't a clue about how to solve the nation's most difficult and serious problems. To mask their insecurities, these ego-challenged "leaders" instinctively refuse to admit they're uncertain, refuse to admit error. In this they are led by a president whose self-certainty appears to contain not a smidgen of self-doubt. But, like Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett's play, they "have to come back tomorrow," and so the charade continues.
To their credit, many Democratic politicians seem to have given up entirely, perhaps waiting for a natural swing of the nation's pendulum to return us to a time when it was possible to hold fairly-reasonable discussions and debates without hurling personal epithets, calling those with whom one disagrees "traitors," belittling and mocking instead of trying to reach agreement -- or, if not, simply agreeing to disagree.
Those so eager to grandstand a last-minute bill to "protect" Terri Schiavo: what efforts did they make to foster reconciliation of Michael Schiavo with Terri Schiavo's parents and thus avoid a rancorous catastrophe? To do so, of course, would have meant losing a golden opportunity for political hay-making at the expense of a woman unable to express her own desires. For most professional politicians, running for office is much more energizing and addictive than devoting serious time to study and analysis aimed at solving national problems; and besides, if the problems were solved there would be -- nothing left to do.
Habit, the great deadener, has corrupted national discourse, and only caring therapy from disgruntled but enlightened voters may cure the ailing beast. Until then, we are, all of us, waiting to pull up our collective trousers and get on with it -- whatever "it" may be.