By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
A political and media onslaught is about to be unleashed with the indictments of a whole host of key White House officials (including you-know-who) caught up in the Plamegate coverup. The unraveling of this potentially treasonous scandal -- which began with the outing, for political reasons, of a covert CIA officer -- could well provide the tipping point that will allow the Democrats to retake the House in the next election, initiate Congressional investigations of Bush Administration crimes, and possibly even pass an impeachment resolution.
So, before all the craziness begins, it might be useful to remind ourselves how far we've come in the battle to remove the extremists who currently rule so recklessly and incompetently in our names. And how the work we've all been doing in the political trenches, unearthing the corruption and incompetence and dangerous initiatives of the Bush Administration, has helped weaken that crowd of crooks and liars to the point where impeachment is a serious possibility. Of course, the Republicans these days -- with their never-ending exploding scandals and bare-knuckles infighting -- are not doing such a bad job destroying themselves without our help.
We internet progressives deal so often with the negative high crimes and misdemeanors of the Administration, and with the cluelessness and cowardice of the ostensible Democratic opposition, that it's easy to be swept totally into that Bush shadow world and lose sight of the strength and powers at our command, and the hope they represent.
So I'd like today to recognize the heroes of our battle, who, ultimately, are helping to lead our country to a restoration of Constitutional rule and the banishment of the worst of the Bush&Co. miscreants either to political exile or, for a good many of the worst participants, to jail.
HERO #1: A COURAGEOUS U.S. SENATOR
But first some history:
Four-plus years ago, in the wake of the Supreme Court's 5-4 installation of Bush into the White House, it looked as if we progressives and traditional Republicans were in for total defeat. The Bush neo-cons and power mongers who had hijacked the Republican Party controlled the House, the Senate (by one vote), the Executive Branch, and most of the corporate mass-media.
But then a courageous U.S. Senator, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, Hero#1, stepped forward to resign from the Republican caucus and, as an Independent, side most of the time with the Democrats, giving them a one-vote majority in the Senate. The Rove/Cheney governing plan was thrown badly off-balance, and had unusual difficulty getting its regressive agenda passed.
That situation would have maintained itself for the rest of Bush's term except that 9/11 happened, and deadly anthrax was unleashed into the halls of Congress (directed mostly, let us not forget, at Democrat leaders). Suddenly, thanks to al-Qaida and whoever distributed the anthrax, the Bush program went zipping through a frightened Congress, with barely any serious opposition.
Certainly no questions were asked about why the Bush Administration was so ill-prepared for the terror attacks even though they had received explicit warnings about them in the weeks and days prior to 9/11. No Democrat politicians wanted to risk being tarred with the epithets "soft on terrorism," or "unpatriotic" for not supporting the president during "wartime."
When more Bush Republicans were elected, tipping the Senate back into GOP hands, the Democrats became even more timid and disorganized. And so, devoid of a questioning political opposition and a mass-media willing to dig for answers, it fell to others to try to keep the flame of liberty (and realistic thinking) burning. By and large, this task was taken up by websites and their writers and editors on the internet, this generation's "alternative press."
THE HONOR ROLL OF COLUMNISTS
Despite the overwhelming pro-Bush fawning of the corporate media, radio talk-shows, newspapers, broadcast networks, cable TV "news" shows and pundits, a relative handful of writers remain willing to speak truth to power in the mainstream outlets. Their courage and perspicacity shine like beacons in an otherwise dark world of pseudo-journalism in the current era, even when their own editorial pages cave regularly to Bush&Co.
The columnist Honor Roll includes: Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, for example, at the New York Times; E.J. Dionne Jr., Eugene Robinson, Harold Meyerson, Dan Froomkin, at the Washington Post; Tom Oliphant, Robert Kuttner, James Carroll and Derrick Z. Jackson at the Boston Globe; Seymour Hersh and Hendrick Hertzberg at The New Yorker; Robert Scheer at the Los Angeles Times; Jay Bookman and Cynthia Tucker at the Atlanta Constitution-Journal; Marie Coco at Newsday; Jon Carroll, Mark Morford and David Lazarus at the San Francisco Chronicle; Joe Conason of the New York Observer; Robyn Blumner of the St. Petersburg Times; Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay at Knight Ridder; the incomparable Molly Ivins in syndicated release, the irrespressible veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas and a few others. Plus, on the broadcast waves, Air America, a few lonely liberal radio talk-show hosts around the country, plus Keith Olbermann, virtually the lone cable-TV pundit willing to ask penetrating questions about Bush policy.