David Labowitz, an insurance salesman here [Narberth, Pennsylvania], said he voted for Mr. Bush in 2004 and was eager for the next election to come along so he could rectify what he called his mistake. "I am a registered Republican," Mr. Labowitz said, "but I am so embarrassed to be a registered Republican." (New York Times, July 9, 2007)
Imagine a burning building, with the people inside scrambling to find the exits.
Now imagine that building located on the deck of a large ship, isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, riddled with gaping holes and sinking fast.
Keep that image in your mind, and add to it the tsunami that is fast approaching the ship’s location.
It will get there soon, but not before the Enola Gay, which is buzzing overhead with a special delivery item in its payload.
Got that picture in your mind? Welcome to the Republican Party, July 2007.
Or, the "Grand Old Party", as our regressive friends like to call it. Old? Sure – as old as greed itself. Party? Well, there ain’t a lot of celebrating going on in its vicinity, but if you mean a congregation of ever-narrowing numbers of people aggregated around certain political ideas, however ridiculous they may be, well then, sure, this is a party. But grand? Only in the scale of its current mess.
If you’ve got any political antennae at all, any sensitivity to the moods and trends of American politics, you can’t help but conclude that it is all collapsing fast, and with it as well many of the multiple enablers who have assisted in bringing us this ugliest of disasters these last years. It’s all coming apart now, bursting its tawdry seams, and doing so not only with a tremendous rapidity, but with even a tremendous increase in the rate of rapidity.
What a week it has been.
The most obvious signs of implosion, of course, are the Republicans in Congress who, one after another, are now ditching the president with sunrise-like regularity. It seemed like there was hardly a day this week when one or two more didn’t abandon the sinking ship of Bush’s Iraq catastrophe. Or should we say that you are "cutting and running", my dear GOP friends? Should we now question your patriotism? Should we note that many of you are up for reelection next year and, having seen what happened last go-round, are now "playing politics with national security"?
If we were Karl Rove, George Bush or Dick Cheney, we would say those things, of course. If we were garden variety regressive fellow-travelers – much like, well ... you, actually – we would. If we were your attack dogs, like O’Reilly and Limbaugh, we most certainly would. But we needn’t do any of those things, because you folks have spoken for yourselves. You backed an insanely incompetent buffoon for president, little distinguishable from Caligula other than by the suit and tie where the toga once resided. You supported his administration’s every move even when you saw that it catered to the worst possible instincts of our country, and that it represented the very antithesis of American constitutional government. You stood by or piled on as its agents berated, vilified and destroyed any and every true patriot who showed the greatest courage by expressing the slightest objection to these toxic policies.
Now that you are seeking rescue from the burning building on the aforementioned sinking ship awaiting the fire of the gods to be quenched only by the great exhalation of Poseidon himself, you should count yourself lucky – Mr. Voinovich, Mr. Lugar, Mr. Domenici, Mr. Alexander, Ms. Snowe – if your too-little-too-late-mealy-mouthed-half-baked attempts to undo the tragedy you helped create in Iraq results only in the loss of your seats in Congress. How will you face the mothers of those who have lost so much more – who have lost everything – for your astonishing lapse in judgement, at best, and your raw political opportunism at (probable) worst, my proud Republican friends?
One by one, two by two, they bailed this week, so that sometimes it seemed that the only Republican senator who didn’t jump ship was that good old patriot, John McCain. I guess McCain must be a religious true believer, because after Bush and Rove sicced the sickest dogs on him in 2000, he’s done nothing since but love his former enemy. Indeed, so great is McCain’s Christian embrace of George Bush that he seems to have even adopted the latter’s delusional personality out of sympathy. The only week McCain’s presidential campaign has ever had that was worse than this week was last week. The guy has a whopping two whole million dollars left in the bank, hasn’t bought a single ad with the tens of millions already wasted on a caviar campaign, is slipping in the Republican polls behind a pro-choice guy with a lisp and another guy from Massachusetts, can no longer raise contributions for the campaign, and therefore had to lay off more than half his national staff. Then, on top of all that, this week he loses his two top operatives through what appears to have been a civil war going on inside the campaign. We can’t quite tell who quit whom, but either way, McCain’s bid for the White House nowadays looks rather more like an episode of ER than a presidential campaign.
Asked if he fired these guys, Big John said: "No, no, no, no. I’d describe the campaign as going well. I’m very happy with it. People are free to make their own assessments. I think we’re doing fine." That’s scary. Of course, it also fully explains how McCain can be just about the only person this side of Dick Cheney who thinks things are going just fine in Baghdad. And isn’t that just what we need right now, another four or eight years of a ‘round-the-clock hallucinating chief executive? No matter. Like Don Rumsfeld, Tony Blair and the former Republican majority in Congress before him, McCain is being amply rewarded for his loyalty to The Wrecking Machine Formerly Known As George Bush, and for sharing the president’s megalomania. Twice McCain has been the odds-on favorite to be the Republican nominee for president, only to watch the little terror from Texas destroy his great life ambition, now for a second time as well.
[Last minute update as we go to press: It has been reported that McCain had a huge fight with Senator Voinovich on the Senate floor (the biggest row people have seen there in decades), that he illegally called campaign contributors from the Senate cloakroom (the very thing that he lambasted Al Gore for doing in 2000), that his two top people in Iowa have joined the exodus from his campaign, and that his campaign co-chair in Florida just got busted for offering to perform oral sex on an undercover cop for twenty bucks. You think I’m making this stuff up, don’t you? But I’m not. That’s the beauty of the regressive right – with these guys you don’t have to! That was today’s news. I wonder what tomorrow will bring. Oh, did I mention that McCain turns 71 next month?]
Looking across to the other side of the aisle, one could certainly be equally amazed at the ‘leaders’ of the majority party in Congress, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. If anyone could possibly be more ineffective at the job of opposing a reckless, dangerous and now publicly despised president, it is hard to figure how. Perhaps if they were to send Dick Cheney a dozen roses and asked him please to end the war he might feel more pressure than he has since January, when the Democrats gained control of Congress. It’s hard to know which would be more intense.