No truce with Time nor Time's accomplice, Death.
--Wilfrid Scawen Blunt
What a surreal moment-this faded end-of-summer 2005.
We are locked in an evil lost war of staggering costs. Some flail at the atrocity in a cause that seems equally lost. Most play on in the ebbing season's sun, oblivious to reckonings.
In Washington rules the worst regime in memory. Yet it falls to a fiercely bereaved 48-year-old mother, camping beside a dusty ditch in Texas, to embody the conscience of the culture, at least until the media move on.
The regime in its outrage struts essentially unopposed in our supposed democracy. Protest rises powerless. The oblivious go uninformed, unled.
Ignorant of the issues, cravenly afraid of risking privilege for principle, hostage to corrupt advisors and a corrupted calculus of national interest, Democrats not only mistake the public mood and fail the minimal duty of opposition, but join the folly. From Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, Capitol Hill barons to camp-following bloggers, they stand bravely for more fodder more efficiently fed to the calamity, huddling earnestly to the right of the most egregious right-wing aggression in our history. Add to the Iraqi disaster the defining debacle of our second intellectually and morally derelict party.
Even if Democrats poll to find courage convenient, as some surely will, it will do us little good. Like the odd rebel Republicans (Senator Hagel & Co., who exhibit, ironically, what conservatives always said about enlisting more integrity than the other side of the aisle), they will find this Presidency peculiarly, frighteningly immune to advice and consent.
There is quixotic talk about George W. Bush reprising Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon, variously undone by intra-party revolt, demonstrations, defection of the Establishment, scandal. I was in the White House when the "Wise Men" of postwar American foreign policy told LBJ that Wall Street as well as Main Street had deserted the Vietnam War. I was there later as Nixon sullenly, anxiously watched a million protesters engulf Pennsylvania Avenue. I saw those politicians, however grudgingly, however slowly, respond to reality.
We must be clear. Bush is no Johnson or Nixon. This president is not simply the least competent ever thrown up. He is also the most pathological. Every shred of evidence of the man and his rule, every witness, leak, and gesture reek of it. Freshman psychology students and amateur therapists smell it instantly. To quote a distinguished analyst who'll remain anonymous for the sake of his Republican patients:
George W. is a narcissistic personality. He is self referent. He sees things only from his point of view--and by extension sees and represents the America that reflects it. He is able to create a seamless ball into which nothing else can penetrate. As with other narcissistic personalities, he lives his entitlement and grandiosity--in his case even seeing himself as fulfilling God's wishes on earth. He does not need to check any other reality. He knows that what feels right to him is right for everyone. The rules do not apply to him (college, the reserves, etc)--only to those who need rules to do what is right. Unlike Senator Frist, I tend not to diagnose in absentia, but with George W., all of us could go on and on.
On and on is how the pathology will be manifest in the torment of Iraq. It hardly matters how vested Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, the Generals, corporations, media claque, complicit Democrats. Bush is enough. The cowardice and blindness, craftiness and stupidity of the war policy, and of the whole myth-encrusted and corrupt mentality around it, will persist so long as Bush and all who used and accepted him remain in office.
Despite the seeming death of politics, we have never known a crisis and opportunity more political. The moment cries out for politics fought as never before.
Not for more wailing at how venally awful it all is, marveling at how the reactionaries did it, as if Churchill's British spent the autumn of 1940 shaking their heads and endlessly writing one another about how it happened Nazis were at the gate. There is no time for that. The poet is right. For this generation of progressives, time's accomplice is death-senseless, generations-haunting death in Iraq, and all the other deaths of body and spirit inflicted by America's misrule at home and abroad. What to do is plain.
Fight now. Fight everywhere. Take the battle first and foremost to where power lives.
Progressives must contest all 435 House seats and all 33 Senate seats up in 2006, along with every governor, legislator and local official not unequivocally against the war and more, everywhere a Republican or a compromised Democrat presumes to govern.
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