Hey, Hey, Woody Guthrie, I Wrote You a Song
Hey, Hey, Woody Guthrie, I Wrote You a Song
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 28 September 2005
I'm out here a thousand miles from my home,
Walkin' a road other men have gone down.
I'm seein' your world of people and things,
Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings.
Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song
'Bout a funny old world that's a-comin' along.
Seems sick and it's hungry, it's tired and it's torn,
It looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born.
-- Bob Dylan, "Song for Woody"
The unbelievably arrogant and power-mad GOP Representative from Texas, Tom DeLay, got a taste of the whip hand on Wednesday. Indicted on a charge of conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, DeLay has been forced to step down as Majority Leader in the House. There is no telling how long it will take for the case to wend its way through the courts, but informed opinion puts the time frame at about a year or so. If Tom gets convicted, however, we will never again see his political face. One hopes he saved his bug exterminator equipment. Perhaps, in his new career, he can disprove that old chestnut about not being able to go home again.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is staring down the barrel of an SEC charge that he dumped stock based on insider information. The stock he owned was from HCA, Inc., a company his family founded. Almost immediately after Frist dumped his stock, the value of those holdings dropped nine percent. "If there is really any evidence of insider trading, then he's in very serious trouble, and so is his party,'' said Gary Jacobson, professor of political science at the University of California in San Diego. "It adds another brick to Democrats' argument that Republicans are corrupt.'' Is it possible that Frist could have been given insider information on a company his own family started? Do the math, and then subtract from Frist's chances of being President in 2008.
A little more than a week ago, the White House's top federal procurement officer, David Safavian, was arrested - not accused, not indicted, but actually slapped with the bracelets - for lying and obstructing a criminal probe against super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Safavian is part of a larger investigation surrounding Abramoff's indictment on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. The names flying around these charges include GOP Rep. Robert Ney of Ohio, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. Had Safavian not resigned his White House post on the day he was arrested, they would have clapped him in irons right there inside 1600 Pennsylvania. Sic semper moral majority.
Oh yeah, and there's still that pesky matter of the investigation into an outed CIA agent floating around. According to a variety of reputable and rock-solid sources, folks in the White House are decidedly unhappy and nervous about this one. What on earth is the world coming to? These guys control the government, right? They control all the agencies responsible for these kinds of investigations. Despite that, DeLay and Frist and Safavian and Abramoff and Lord only knows who else are getting a crash course in the Justice system.
And how is Mr. Bush coping through all this? One answer can be found in this week's Newsweek, which describes George watching Hurricane Rita like a hawk after the Katrina debacle. "His eyes," reads the Newsweek piece, "were puffy from lack of sleep (he had been awakened all through the night with bulletins), and he seemed cranky and fidgety. A group of reporters and photographers had been summoned by White House handlers to capture a photo op of the commander in chief at his post. Bush stared at them balefully. He rocked back and forth in his chair, furiously at times, asked no questions and took no notes. It almost seemed as though he resented having to strike a pose for the press."
Rocked back and forth? Furiously at times? Sounds like a pathological response. I guess 40% approval ratings across the board will do that. These guys are sharp, though. They'll dig their way out. Or will they? On Monday, just before the DeLay indictment came out, the White House released a statement of support. "Majority Leader DeLay is someone the president considers a friend," read the statement. "The president looks forward to continuing to work closely with the majority leader to get things done on behalf of the American people."
Oops. Keep rocking, George.
The Washington Post's Terry Neal published an article titled "Echoes of 1994 with Current Scandals?" on Tuesday. "Is it 1994 all over again?" asked Neal. "Dark and ominous clouds are gathering over the Republican Party these days, with a series of ethical and legal scandals that threaten to further damage a White House and Congress already reeling from a sharp drop in public approval ratings. On top of all of that, a special prosecutor and grand jury continue to investigate what, if any, role White House officials may have played in the leaking of the name of a covert operative to reporters. And the White House has come under increasing scrutiny, in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, for rampant cronyism in its appointments to top level jobs, including director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and nominees for head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and deputy attorney general, among others."
Somewhere close to a half million people showed up in Washington last weekend to shout the White House down. A variety of organizations, such as Progressive Democrats of America, held conventions to plan their electoral strategies for 2006. On Monday, hundreds of activists swarmed House offices on Capitol Hill to demand an exit from Iraq. The anti-war movement, dismissed as non-existent by the GOP, has gained strength and speed with the actions of heroes like Cindy Sheehan, who got herself arrested on Monday for praying in front of the White House.
Woody Guthrie used to paint "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his guitars. I think he'd be pleased to see how fast the rock has started rolling down the hill.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.