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The Retrovirus

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A retrovirus is a virus which, to use very inexact lay terminology, relies upon its host to complete its reproductive needs, that is, its DNA is transcribed using the host DNA.  The retrovirus becomes a parasite on the host and is able to further infect other organisms from its genetic beachhead within the individual.  AIDS is a disease caused by the retrovirus HIV.  What Karl Rove, "Bush's Brain," has done for the Republicans is very much like what a retrovirus does.  Rove has instilled within the Republican Party the idea that Republicans can be the dominant party of the 21st century if only they take a few measures to insure that the Party is able to replicate without serious competition.  Rove's solution, given that an overt Republican philosophy favoring corporations and the rich is not beneficial or acceptable to the majority of voting citizens, is to use the power of federal government as a retrovirus uses the DNA of its host to insure that Republicans are favored and all competitors, mostly Democrats, are kept from replicating, i.e., getting elected.  It is not only a subversion of the federal government and the Constitution, it is a perversion of the political party system which cannot be allowed to go unanswered ... and unpunished.

I was still closely monitoring the federal government in 2001 when Bush, Cheney, and the Republicans took over from the humiliated Wm. Jefferson Clinton.  I and my colleagues at other universities were waiting for certain funding to be authorized for a branch of research that faculty on our campuses would be eligible.  In fact we were awaiting funding authorization for a whole raft of such programs, and by March and April of 2001 we realized that the Republicans had not only cancelled these programs, but had substituted their people into positions of authority at the agencies at levels previously unheard of.  This was our first clue that something more than a simple exchange of politicals in the agencies was underway.  This was not to be just a normal change of party administrative transition.

Fast forward through the dark years of the consolidation of the the BushCheneyRove hegemony over the federal government.  The dismissal of federal prosecutors was a eye-popping revelation.  Here the immune system of the federal government was being overtaken by the parasitic retrovirus of Rovean politics, a no holds barred politics like that of Newt Gingrich a decade earlier and of Tom DeLay and his minions ever since.  Yes, other administrations had let the federal prosecutors go en masse, but with Rove the attention to the political details gave them away.  What Rove was doing was nothing less than taking over the federal government by replacing every synapse with a card-carrying corporatist Republican.  His intent was to highjack the entire edifice of the federal government, make it subservient to the Republican Party and himself.  He was not only allowed to do this by his superiors; he was instructed to do so in general and in specific terms.  His superiors were Andrew Card, Chief of Staff, VP Cheney and his Chief of Staff, and President Bush, not to mention a handful of people not actually inside government, but nevertheless ruthlessly involved in the new order.

The slow investigation into the federal prosecutor firings has opened up Pandora's box and let us all see the crawly, slimey, foetid machinations of Karl Rove and his accomplices.  The untimely revelation has partly paralyzed the administration for there is another kind of blindered myopia in the White House, namely, the inability to sense a turning point and hope for forgiveness.  These people are in for the whole enchilada or nothing.  They are counting on the good will of the opposition to disbelieve the extent of their attempt to highjack our democracy.

What Rove and the Republicans have done is completely unforgivable, of course, and the President and Vice President know it.  Had the war gone half as poorly as it actually did, the pressure on the Executive Branch would have been much less and they might have gotten away with a complete silent gun-free coup d'etat.  But the war went badly, and so they did not get away with it.  The wheels of justice will grind them to dust eventually, but the great fear out in the country is what other harm they will accomplish while there are in office.

FBI violations of personal privacy, lost and destroyed emails by the millions, harassment of whistleblowers, stuffing religious fanatics into key positions, firing of attorneys who would not sully their reputations with vindictive assaults on innocent citizens, aid and abettment of attorneys like Schlozman who viciously attacked Democrats, use of the General Services Administration for political purposes, voter fraud, vote suppression, and now infiltration of the U.S. office designated to prosecute violations of voting rights with the aim of fabricating cases against Democrats, and on and on.  The debauchery and incompetence of the Bush administration seemingly knows no bounds, and it is all based on the simple program of debasing the federal government with card-carrying corporatist Republicans, replacing the DNA of our our government—the Constitution—with the agenda of the Republican National Committee and the corporations that nurture it!

Impeachment is the necessity, not the option.  Impeachment teaches the citizens that no crime this heinous goes unseen, untried, unpunished.  Impeachment of Gonzales, Cheney, and Bush teaches that the Constitution is the center and life of our civilization, not the RNC and, indeed, not the DNC, either.  Impeachment is the logical and moral outcome of swearing an oath to protect and defend the Constitution.  Impeachment cannot be taken "off the table" by Speaker Pelosi or anyone else.  Her gambit to deal with the Republicans as if they were a normal political party and not an infection using our own federal government as a retrovirus uses our own DNA must be abandoned.  It was an accommodating idea in the first place, but now in the light of testimony and news from many quarters in Washington, impeachment must be placed resoundingly at the center of Congress's efforts. The fate of the republic very much depends on Pelosi realizing that she is dealing with people who care nothing for the Constitution and nothing for the vast majority of Americans.

JB This essay also published at The American Liberalism Project

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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

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