Weiner: Pushing Them Off the Precipice of Power
Pushing Them Off the Precipice of Power
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers
The Bush Administration these days is like a sickly iceberg. The inside structures are weakened by moral rot, and the outside walls are thinning because of the heat they're taking. As the Bush iceberg suffers yet another scandal and embarrassing revelation, every so often another huge chunk breaks off and crashes into the political sea.
In short, the once-solid Republican iceberg is melting and falling apart. Consider:
Polls are showing Bush sinking lower and lower in national approval ratings. CIA insiders are revealing yet more embarrassing details ( >> LINK <<) about Bush&Co.'s pre-war fiddling with the truth. GOP senators are joining Democrats opposing Bush's attempt to rob them of their co-equal power in our checks-and-balances system of government. More evidence is surfacing of how the White House knew immediately what was going down in post-Katrina New Orleans, ( >> LINK <<), but did nothing and thousands died or barely escaped. The Abramoff influence-peddling and bribery scandals are getting closer and closer to the Oval Office. More lies and deceptions are being revealed here and in England about how Bush and Cheney raced to war with Iraq; Rove (and perhaps Cheney) ( >> LINK <<) are closer to being fully unmasked by Patrick Fitzgerald's special-counsel probes. More statistical and other evidence is coming to light about electoral fraud ( >> LINK <<) in key states, and on and on.
The question is no longer whether the Bush Administration will implode and be forced to disappear before 2008, but when. By their unconscionable actions and thorough-going incompetence, they find themselves perched ever so perilously on a political cliff; our job is to build enough united oppositional force to help them over the edge.
A TRUE OPPOSITION PARTY
To accomplish this task, the Democrats, of course, need to gather strength and remain united against Bush's atrocious policies and misbehaviors -- in short, behaving as a true Opposition Party should. But it's clear that the strongest impetus for impeachment or resignation must come from the Republicans. More and more of them are beginning to see the handwriting on the wall: Not only is the Bush Administration endangering the United States with its policies and corruptions, but, perhaps more importantly for them, their re-election chances are badly damaged by being associated with these incompetent, reckless, arrogant extremists -- and, this time out, they may not be confident that they can count on, or get away with, any fiddling with the vote-tabulations.
Major conservative media, legislative and business leaders -- some of whom are beginning to make noises along these lines -- may well decide to cut their losses by urging Bush and Cheney to resign. Or, prior to November, they may start leaning toward impeachment hearings, along with their Democratic counterparts.
Sure, what I'm speculating about may not take place, at least not as quickly as my scenario imagines. There are so many perks associated with being the majority party in Congress in league with an Administration of the same party. It wouldn't be easy to give that up. But, by the same token, wanting to stay in power may provide more incentive for Congressional Republicans to get the Bush/Cheney albatross from around their necks.
FLYING ON FUMES
Were it not so tragic, it would be almost pitiable to watch Bush&Co. flailing these days, trying anything to bring those poll numbers back up. But, the truth is, their political larder is virtually bare. Whatever political capital they once had has long been spent; they're running on credit (and anxiety) now. Or, put another way, they're flying on political fumes.
And so, they're hauling out the only thing that has worked for them for the past five years: fear. It's not called that, of course (it goes by the names of "national security" and "war on terrorism"), but we all know that's what it is. Their aim is to frighten just enough American citizens to eke out a "victory" in November -- as they claimed to have done in 2000 and 2004, ignoring the likelihood of electoral fraud. If they can pull another electoral rabbit out of the hat, they will feel politically secure for the final two years of Bush's term, and somewhat insulated from the possibility of being held accountable for their sins of commission and omission, especially through the impeachment process.
The NSA domestic-spying scandal is one case in point. It seems clear, just judging from the ferocity of their determination not to let anyone know the actual dimensions of what they've been up to for four years, that they are concealing something truly monstrous and dangerous to their continued rule.
WHAT THEY COULD BE HIDING
Since al-Qaida terrorists long ago figured out they'd better stop using telephones and emails, that "something" may well have to do with illegally surveilling and monitoring the communications of countless thousands of American citizens, many of whom oppose aspects of Bush's program and policies, perhaps including key Democratic leaders. Such blatantly illegal behavior doomed Nixon's presidency, and if my suppositions are correct, could take down Bush's administration as well. (You may remember that the Supreme Court blasted apart Nixon's assertion that actions taken by the President ipso facto are always legal.)
Even though the Bush Bunker crew is greatly weakened and harassed, they still control the organs of authority in this country -- with most of the corporate-owned mass-media still doing their bidding -- and they seem willing to do whatever is required to keep themselves in power. Cornered beasts are at their most dangerous in such trapped circumstances.
To save themselves, they are not averse to pushing the country into a constitutional crisis -- with their discredited theory that the president, when acting in his capacity as "commander in chief," can violate whatever laws he wants, without the Legislative and Judicial branches of government being permitted to question such authoritarian behavior. And now, in cahoots with their Mideast ally Israel, the Busheviks are moving to attack at least one more country, probably air-dropped bombs and missiles aimed at damaging Iran's fledgling nuclear facilities, thus setting back their atomic program at least a decade. (Don't forget that in 1981 Israel bombed Iraq's nascent nuclear program, effectively shutting it down for decades.)
REPEATING MISTAKES WITH IRAN
The scenario that got the U.S. bogged down in Iraq is likely to be repeated here. Iran, ruled by an isolated, arrogant president, is not now even close to being an imminent threat; experts agree that it would take Iran a minimum of three to five years to achieve nuclear-threat capability. And, even if one were to agree that Iran had to be confronted, there is plenty of time for diplomacy and threats of sanctions to work and/or to organize the world community if and when such a threat does get closer to military reality. But the Bush Administration, despite the fact that U.S. troops are stretched to the breaking point in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems determined to act unilaterally anyway, perhaps using Israel as its proxy. We are the one remaining Superpower, get out of our way.
And, as in Iraq, Bush&Co. seems unconcerned about the short-term and long-term consequences of such an attack. For example, the neo-cons in control of the Administration's foreign and military policy seem to believe, as they did when planning the war on Iraq, that the local population will support such a move and maybe even try to overthrow the ruling mullahs. The more likely prospect is a united front of Iranians against the attacking "infidels" and "imperalists." Nor have the Busheviks taken into account Muslim sensibilities around the world, or the law of unintended consequences after an attack is launched on another Islamic state. The likely result might be Iran's refusal (perhaps joined by other Muslim countries as well) to sell oil to the U.S., which could cause incalculable chaos in America and trigger economic depression in the West in general.
But the Bush Administration is fixated on Iran. With its hardened military bases next door in Iraq, and Iran (or any other nation) unable to prevent a massive onslaught from the air, the Busheviks feel the time is right. And it just so happens that such an attack -- pure "coincidence," of course -- will precede a midterm election in the United States. "Don't change horses in the middle of a war" will be the GOP meme; rally 'round the flag, boys.
Some posit that so desperate are the Bush forces to regain the support of the American population that there might be another claimed domestic "terrorist attack" in the works that the Bush folks will tell us they nipped in the bud before it happened, much like their unverified claim that they supposedly broke up a terrorist plot in Los Angeles years ago. Or conceivably, that they will choose to look the other way again, similar to their pre-9/11 behavior, and allow such a terrorist incident to happen, to hype the fear factor.
In short, friends, even or especially in this period when Bush&Co. are taking blow after blow to the body and head, I'm scared. Both because of what Karl Rove might have in store for us in the near-term but, in case his tactics were to work, also at what lies ahead for America in the long-term. Whatever it is, it ain't going to be pretty.
OUR JOB IN THE OPPOSITION
So what do we do while the White House crew grows increasingly more self-destructive? Stand aside and let them and their GOP cronies destroy themselves, and take the economy and political system down with them? Imitate their smash-mouth politics and cut-throat tactics?
Neither approach would seem to be the answer, though the Democrats definitely need to hone their street-smarts and learn how to fight back consistently and aggressively. They could learn a tactical lesson from Rove: Go after your opponents where they are strongest -- here the Republicans on "national security." Americans shouldn't even listen to Cheney, for example, a Vice President who engineered the outing of a covert CIA agent working on discovering the true nature of Iran's nuclear-weapons program. Bush&Co. are dire threats to America's national security.)
Our job, it seems to me, is clear. We need to do everything within our power to create a reconstituted "Movement" and an effective opposition party to forcefully (often with creative humor) counter the Bush&Co. machine, a Movement with a built-in set of moral principles and a clear, practical policy agenda. Doing so might well draw into the impeachment movement more moderate Republicans, independents, Libertarians, anti-Big Brother activists and the like.
While we're building the grassroots opposition and launching our creative campaign to educate the populace, we must simultaneously aim toward taking at least one of the Houses of Congress away from the GOP toadies who provide the legislative shock troops for Bush&Co. That means supporting courageous progressive candidates in the primaries and, if they don't win, voting for anyone who is not Republican, even if they don't line up fully with our progressive agenda.
The aim, the only aim, is to break the lock Bush&Co. have on virtually all the levers of power in this country. Removing GOP control of the House, for example, would have the practical effect of giving the Democrats subpoena power to force the appearance of Administration witnesses under oath, to obtain documents, to prepare impeachment charges, etc.
Finally, our job is to agitate for and publicize the need for honest, transparent election processes; we may have to take election officials to court in state after state. We cannot permit the continued outsourcing of election vote-tabulation to private corporations who are ideological bedfellows with Bush&Co., and who, it has been demonstrated time and time again, easily can (and probably did) manipulate the computer tallies without anyone being the wiser. No more election fraud, no more dirty tricks at the polls, no more secret vote-tabulations by HardRight corporations. America had enough of all that and wants to feel secure that their votes are counted honesty and correctly.
If we can mobilize the electorate so as to generate huge leads in the pre-election polls, and if we can restore exit-polling to its rightful place in the process, ballot-counting manipulation probably can be spotted easily and thus kept to a minimum. We must activate our energies and prepare the table for a Republican defeat of huge, super-majority proportions in November.
But unless we can ensure honest balloting procedures, and non-corrupted vote-counting, our votes will count for nought; there will be no social progress and our country will move even further into becoming a militarized, one-party, neo-fascist state. That's it in a nutshell. And that's what must motivate our Movement to help return us to an America of which we all can be proud.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government & international relations at various universities, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers ( www.crisispapers.org). To comment, write >> firstname.lastname@example.org <<.