The Fall of the House of Bush
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine; and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular... We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result.
Edward R. Murrow
It is inevitable: sooner or later the Bush Regime will fall.
Perhaps next month; perhaps after the end of the Jeb Bush Administration in
2016. The essential question is whether it will take down the rest of us
In the two and a half years that I have co-edited The Crisis Papers, I have often speculated publicly as to how Bushism might be overthrown. The operative word here is “might.” Regarding probabilities, I am a pessimist; regarding possibilities, I am an optimist. And as long as there is a possibility of avoiding the precipice, that is reason enough for hope, for rational planning, and for action. Resigned passivity is not an honorable option.
First the dire probabilities:
The Bush administration is confidently marching toward disaster, and we are all unwilling passengers on this fool’s journey. Bush’s folly, if not diverted, will certainly lead to economic collapse, international isolation, and dreadful terrorist revenge. Herbert Stein’s law reigns supreme: “That which can not go on forever, won’t.” The ingredients of this witch’s brew of mischief are many: the federal deficit and national debt, growing income disparity, the dissolution of civil liberties and civil rights, foreign wars, stolen elections, corporate corruption, theocracy and the assault on science and scholarship, official secrecy and lies.
Because I have recently discussed these malignant conditions at length (in “Something’s Gotta Give”) I will not repeat that effort here. Our focus will be on possible avenues of reform and restoration. Suffice to say that the mechanisms that support and sustain the Bushevik folly are firmly in place: a captive media, limitless financial resources from corporate sponsors, an intimidated and subservient bureaucracy, disregard of federal and international law, unconstrained mendacity, and, worst of all, a passive and gullible public. Add to that the manifest shortcomings and disqualifications of The Commander-in-Chief himself: pluperfect arrogance, a stubborn unwillingness to admit error, and a disregard of the informed advice of scientists, policy analysts and intelligence agencies. In short, our President is a perfect solipsist: all that exists to him is his greed, his self-importance, and the “wisdom” of his infallible gut.
It will take a significant combination of forces to turn the
Ship of State away from this deadly course.
Deliverance. But enough of these probabilities of disaster. Let’s consider next the possibilities of escape – of bringing down the House of Bush.
For the first two-hundred years of our republic, our government has, for the most part, been sustained by the people’s shared conviction in and loyalty to the founding political principles of our nation as articulated in our national charters, The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We have also nourished what philosopher John Rawls calls “civic friendship” – mutual trust and respect, tolerance of differences, a sense of safety and tranquility in each others’ company, encouragement of self-expression and self-fulfillment, and a willingness to settle our disputes within the context of the rule of law and through the slow but just processes of a representative government, elected by a secure ballot.
It was a system that has earned the envy and respect of both free and oppressed peoples throughout the world.
But now the Bush gang, which perversely calls itself “conservative,” has changed all that. This is a regime that rules through fear and lies, through secrecy and a casual disregard of “inconvenient” laws, through a “privatization” and control of the ballot, and through the willingness of a controlling segment of the public to believe the lies, to endure impoverishment, a loss of hope for the future, and the sell-off of the public treasure – common air and water, and public lands and resources.
We have, in short, fallen upon dreadful times – and yet, paradoxically, hopeful as well. For a regime based upon fear and lies is inherently far less secure than a regime based upon shared conviction of principles, loyalty to institutions, and mutual trust.
If, contrafactually, I were George Bush and endowed with a modicum of common sense, I should be very worried. His regime is supported through fear, falsehood, arrogance and a compliant public. But how long can the Busheviks withhold from the public the compelling fact that this public has been had? At the House debate over the Clinton impeachment, Congressman John Lewis cried out, “beware the wrath of the American people!” So far, that wrath has been contained, and presumably George Bush, with his unperturbed self-assurance, has little doubt that it will continue to be contained. But “pride goeth before the fall.” And never forget: Bush is dealing with a public that, unlike the unfortunate peoples of the Soviet Union and elsewhere, knows what it is like to live in a free and prosperous country.
The role of the media. The lies of the Bush Administration are promulgated without rebuttal by the mainstream media. For example, in late October, 2004, the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) reported reported that among Bush voters:
56% believed that experts agreed that Iraq had WMDs
75% believed that Iraq was either involved in 9/11 or gave
substantial support to Al Queda.
58% said that if Iraq did not have WMDs or was not involved with al Qaeda, the US should not have gone to war.
Accordingly, most Bush voters went to the polls believing
demonstrably false information. The only possible source of that false
information was the mainstream media (including right-wing talk radio and
cable TV “news”). Clearly, the media took no pains to convey correct
information to the voters. Furthermore, if the media had done so, Bush might
well have lost over 5% of his votes, and the election. In short, he owed his
re-election to the failure of the mainstream media to do its job of
reporting the news.
And that’s just the beginning. The media further assisted Bush/Cheney by trumpeting the slander against John Kerry by the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” and by muffling the evidence of Bush’s dereliction of duty to the Texas Air National Guard.
The Bush-friendly connivance of the mainstream media continues to this day, as news of “The Downing Street Memo,” with its compelling evidence of impeachable offenses by the President, remains hidden from the front pages of the newspapers and is completely absent from the TV news. So too any journalistic investigation of the integrity of the 2004 election, despite an abundant and ever-growing fund of evidence that the election was stolen.
During the past week, following the disclosure of Mark Felt as the Watergate “Deep Throat,” some pundits have asked, “Where is today’s Deep Throat?” To which others have replied, “No, the question is where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins today?” Both questions miss the mark. The relevant question is, “where are the Ben Bradlees and Kathryn Grahams today?” – (i.e., the editor and publisher of the Washington Post during the Watergate affair). Not in the “mainstream.” The voices of dissent, the remaining investigative journalists, and the conveyers of accurate information, are in the still small voice of the independent press and the internet.
And so, the power of the Presidency has subdued the mainstream media. Even so, the media has enormous, if unrealized, power over the Bush regime, for once the demonstrable facts of the Iraq War, the 9/11 attacks, the economic plunder by the corporations and the plutocrats, the stolen elections, the starvation of social services, etc., become known to the public, the Bush administration is finished, and the Republican party is destined for another generation in the political wilderness. This is the sword of Damocles that the media holds over the Bush gang.
It is a weapon that the mainstream media has chosen not to use, and is unlikely to use as long as its owners remain confined within the GOP reservation. So it is up to the independent publishers and the internet. Can they, at long last, get the facts out to the public? On that question, the future of the Bush Administration and the Republican party turns – and well they know it.
Herein is a grave danger to the Busheviks. A regime of lies can not long endure – especially so in this emerging “information age.” As Bush himself famously observed, “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." And in fact, the truth is beginning to leak into the public awareness. Those PIPA statistics concerning the public misunderstanding of the Iraq war no longer apply, thus the Administration no longer pretends that Saddam’s WMDs and alliance with al Qaeda justifies the war. Now a majority of the public believes that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that proportion is increasing, as Bush’s approval ratings continue to plummet.
The credibility of the Bush regime is dissolving, and with it the regime’s scaffolding of lies. Donald Rumsfeld told us in March, 2003 that “We know where [the WMDs] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad.” Subsequent searches of that area have exposed that lie. And Dick Cheney famously proclaimed in August, 2002 that “there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” That sound clip is being heard ever more frequently. So when Cheney appears on Larry King Live and says that he is “offended” by the Amnesty International report on torture, and insists that the Iraq insurgency is “in its last throes” – well, “fool me once...”
In the Soviet Union the Communist Party owned and controlled the media and the education system and ruthlessly excluded news and opinion from “the outside.” But it could not suppress The Beatles, Rock and Roll, FAXes, audio and video tapes, The Voice of America and the BBC – the youth culture and the nascent information age. All this, incidentally, before the Internet. So when at last the peoples of the several republics of the Soviet Union no longer believed the official lies, it was all over for the Communists.
Now the Bush regime has to contend with all that, plus “the internets” and the influx of “unofficial” but authentic information from within and from outside our borders.
Even so, most of the American people simply can’t yet get it into their heads that their President and Vice President, along with the chief members of the President’s Cabinet, are unscrupulous liars. But the notion is slowly infecting the body politic like a persistent mind-virus. People hate to discover that they’ve been lied to, and will often steadfastly deny that unpleasant truth. But once they finally acknowledge that they’ve been conned, then watch out! “Beware the wrath of the American people!”
The Defection of the Elites:
An astonishing aspect of the past Presidential election, now largely forgotten, was the desertion of prominent Republicans from their party – among them, Arianna Huffington, Kevin Philips, John Dean, “Pete” Peterson, and Senator Jim Jeffords. “Republicans for Kerry” was a vibrant organization, while “Democrats for Bush” was a pale shadow.
What motivated these apostate-Republicans? Surely a loyalty to founding American political principles that trumped party loyalty. Also a recognition that John Kerry was simply far better qualified for the awesome responsibilities of the Oval Office. But surely, among these motives must have been the typical Republican focus on rational self-interest. How could so many Republicans forget that, despite constant harassment by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Richard Mellon Scaife, Bill Clinton managed to preside over the most prosperous decade in recent American history? And how can any intelligent and informed capitalist fail to realize that the course of Bushenomics leads directly to economic ruin? As Stephen Roach, the chief economist of the Wall Street investment firm, Morgan Stanley forecast: America faces “economic armageddon.” And even Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, is telling us that we simply cannot go on like this.
What keeps the Republicans, and in particular Bush’s cash-cows the “Pioneers” on the GOP reservation? Surely habit, family tradition, political influence and simple greed. No mystery there. No doubt fear of retaliation also plays a significant role. But self-interest?
The steadfast, wealthy GOP supporters are behaving like passengers who have booked first-class passage on the Titanic, knowing full-well in advance of the voyage the fate of the ship, but nonetheless determined to enjoy to the fullest the five-day passage en route to the iceberg.
Are they really incapable of seeing past the year-end financial report, or next quarter’s earnings in their investment portfolio? Have they no care for the future of their country, and the prospects for their children and grandchildren upon whom they are placing a crushing debt?
Do they believe that the other 98% of the population – the disappearing middle class and the ever-growing numbers of the poor – will sit still and endure the exporting of their jobs, the strangulation of their social services, the lost educational and career prospects for their children, the erosion of civil liberties, the sell-off of public lands and resources?
Do they truly believe that when this all comes crashing down, they will somehow escape – that when “our” side of the common boat sinks, “their” side will not follow?
Apparently, for the most part, they simply don’t bother to notice or think about such things. They ignore the handwriting on the wall: mene, mene tekel opharsin.
“Eat, drink, be merry – for tomorrow we die.” "Apres nous le deluge."
But not all elites are this decadent. George Soros, Warren Buffet, and other enlightened capitalists fully appreciate that their fortunes were gained, and may best be sustained, in a just and cooperative economic scheme which thrives from the investments of the entrepreneurs, the productivity of the workers, and a secure and just public sector -- education, law enforcement, courts, regulation of commerce, the administration of public resources.
This is the proven, liberal, just and prosperous social order toward which we Americans have aspired throughout our history – an order that is now being dismantled by the Bush regime, and which may be abandoned forever unless we resist and overcome.
In this struggle, an alliance with the elites – in commerce, in finance, in the media, in academia – is essential. It is a struggle that now transcends political parties, as the so-called “moderate Republicans” have been supplanted by the religious fundamentalists and the plutocrats that have captured their party, and our government.
For once again: the Bush regime is motivated by greed and lust for power, and it is sustained by corruption, lies, fear and divisiveness. It replaces a commonwealth based upon mutual trust and tolerance, upon the just rule of law, and shared loyalty to high political principles. As corruption is exposed, as lies are countered by demonstrable truth, as fear is overcome by resolution, and divisiveness is overcome by a perception of common purpose, the evil regime collapses.
Battista in Cuba, Marcos in the Philippines, and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union all appeared to be in firm control, despite “some internal unrest.” But when public outrage overcame fear, when “people-power” coalesced, all these regimes suddenly collapsed from a combination public pressure without and the rottenness within.
Can it happen here? Time will tell – time, and our determination to expose the lies, spread the truth, overcome our fears, and apply that essential pressure.
After all, it’s our country, not theirs.
Copyright 2005, by Ernest Partridge
Conscience of a Progressive: A book in progress.
Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".