To the Editor:
Remember less than three months ago when we Americans faced the most
momentous election—our gravest political choice--in memory? How could we
forget? How indeed?
It was billed “The Battle for the White House” and it was the longest, most expensive pre-fight promotion in history. The marquee carried their names as a tag-team: Bush/Cheney vs. Kerry/Edwards. Each contestant was skilled, both teams well-fitted. The promoters and pundits touted the match ceaselessly and as the election neared the pollsters called it a toss-up. Interest in the outcome was keen.
The incumbents’ handlers proclaimed that the election pitted principled patriotism against squishy internationalism, determination against equivocation, traditional values against unrestrained license. The opponents countered, claiming that the battle was between truth and falsehood, reason and force, greed-driven inequity and fairly-apportioned means, peace and war. Each side had its ardent,
well-publicized proponents: FoxNews/Clear Channel faced off against “the
liberal media”; Limbaugh/Hannity against Moore/Franken; Christian
Evangelicals against Hollywood Heavyweights. Each team had its unquestioning,
unswerving supporters: Nascar dads and Born-agains for Bush/Cheney; eggheads and alienateds for Kerry/Edwards.
The divisions of fan-base therefore couldn’t have been clearer—this was no Tweedle-dee/Tweedle-dum election—and the stakes couldn’t have been higher. Everybody—the pundits, the contestants, even the voters, agreed: The Battle for the White House was indeed The Battle of the Century, the twentieth as well as the twenty-first.
The match went the distance. The incumbents won fair and square (maybe). But
by no means was it a one-sided bout. The electors of a single populous
state, or a combination of two smaller states out of fifty, were the difference.
But nevertheless, in the intervening weeks, here’s what the incumbents have
First, even before all the votes, by punch or tap, were finally tallied, they declared that they’d handily pinned the opponents (or knocked them out, depending on your choice of metaphor), and thereupon claimed a mandate to rule. Next, they cleared out their Cabinet, moving all but those most solidly in their corner out into private (and very gainful, no doubt) employment, and elevated or retained those who’d been most loyal, regardless of merit, thereby consolidating their power. Third, they announced a series of programs—limiting consumer lawsuits, perpetuating tax reductions for the wealthy, opening national parks to mining and logging, entrusting Social Security funds to private investment, cutting back on international aid to
developing nations—to make certain their intentions are clear: They’d won the
battle for the White House and meant to claim the spoils.
That includes the spoils of war—that is, wars. The war in Iraq and the war on terror.
Remember them? Those are the wars that have gone so well, according to the
incumbents, that they had the temerity recently to award their planners—Tenet,
Bremer and Franks—the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Meanwhile, Iraqi
cities lie in ruins and the country remains a shooting gallery for our
soldiers—1350 of whom have died there, and 10,000-plus have been wounded—and a haven for insurgents. Afghanistan is also largely a wasteland, its peoples
destitute, that has deteriorated into heroin-heaven run by warlords. And
by all accounts—including those of the State Department, the CIA and the
Pentagon—the standing of the United States in the world—Europe, Eurasia, the
Middle East, even South America and Africa—has deteriorated significantly since
the US began its recent reign as world tyrant.
So here’s the question. Given that the election was a tough bout with high stakes and that the winners are claiming and wielding their power with the obvious—indeed, announced—purpose to effectuate their odious (to the losers) agenda, what do the losers do now? Do they remain forever on the canvas, allowing the
incumbents to dance around the ring in celebration? Do they let the
incumbents kick them while they’re down? Or do they, acting out the
American ideal of courage and perseverance in the face of acknowledged
adversity, rise up and say enough!
Well, here’s their chance. The incumbents, flushed with the arrogance of victory, have designated as their choice for the next Attorney General—the nation’s chief law enforcement officer—a man who has in writing presented a legal case to justify
the use of abuse and torture of prisoners, and in the process has belittled the
humanitarian provisions of Geneva Convention, a treaty that the US sponsored,
has rigorously observed and adhered to for decades. The man, Alberto Gonzales,
whom the incumbents seek to have serve as enforcer of our federal laws and
arbiter of their scope, must not be allowed such power.
The opponents must now rise from the canvas, wipe off the sweat and raise their
gloves. So too must any citizen of the United States, supporter of the
Bush/Cheney card or not. We must defeat Gonzales’ nomination. This nation
cannot stand among those who make up the civilized community with him in charge
of our laws. Our troops abroad will pay the price—an horrific price of
fear and flesh—because our most vicious enemies will believe, with Gonzales as
our Attorney General, that we are like them. We ask enough of our soldiers
to send them off to endless, meaningless battles. We can’t strip them of
the one protection they have from desolation and horrible death: The sense that
the nation on whose behalf they serve is the finest nation on Earth, a nation
that in all extremities is a nation of laws.
Do we do this one thing? Do we rise up and defeat Gonzales?
Or are we punchdrunk?
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Up from the canvas
Here's a piece I wrote to the editor of the SB News-Press. Don't know if they'll print it. I must say, though, this Gonzales is a slimeball, bigtime.