I should give myself a spanking, put on a fool's cap, and wander the streets calling out "I'm a fool! I was wrong about Bush!" Actually, I wasn't wrong about Bush personally. I disliked him from the very beginning of his barely legitimate election, and I blushed every time he mumbled on TV. He wasn't bright, but he was my president, and I had a (sorely tested now) belief that his government was acting out in the best interest of the people. I was wrong. Bush leads a gang of robbers, and he's not just a little simple, he's seriously bad.
Let me examine my naivete for a minute, because, to me, it's weirder than Bush. In 1974, like most Americans post-Nixon, I felt that our government was pursuing evil ends as a matter of policy and that no one in power should be trusted. Nixon was a bald-faced liar who conducted an illegal war in Cambodia and flaunted the democratic process like a two-bit dictator. Watergate had the salutary effect of flushing the sewer clean, or at least clean enough that no administration after that dared to be so overtly contemptuous of the law. Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, swept away much of the electorate's healthy mistrust of government. Carter, as historians never tire of telling us, was a "decent" man, a good man, a true idealist. He was good enough anyway to shift the debate from political probity to the issue of "human rights," which restored the world's faith in American ideals and unhinged dictatorships abroad. Carter was also too "decent" to get re-elected, so he was followed in power by a first-class demagogue with a lucky streak. Ronald Reagan gave a final push to the rotting hulk of the Red Empire and was able to take credit for the collapse. On the homefront, the Gipper succeeded in shifting the national debate to the ground of "family values" and convinced working people to vote against their own economic self-interest, to keep us all from becoming hippies and sodomites. Reagan was a good (if not "great") communicator, who restored some faith in the working of politics. An improving economy did the rest to put everyone else to sleep. The Clinton era was a dream.
And sleep we did, until we woke up with the gang now in the White House. Here is a terrible communicator who lied to the country about reasons to go to war. He asked everyone to forget about his oil business chums and claimed that his motives were pure. In fact, his business friends are stomping on each other to get to the Iraqi-contracts trough. He started a crusade for "Western civilization" because we were attacked by fanatics -- who turn out to be our oil-rich friends the Saudis. And when the commission charged with finding out the truth of the 9/11 attacks does indeed find out, everything about the Saudis is censored by George W. Bush. And that's just the beginning: John Ashcroft's assault on civil liberties is relentless; the looting of the treasury by the rich is conducted in full public view, just like the looting in Iraq; and the constitution is egregiously disregarded for reasons of "national security."
Instead of screaming with indignation, people are still rubbing their eyes. I feel like I've woken up with the worst hangover of my life. Mostly, I'm mad at myself for inventing excuses for our leadership. The only good thing is that, asleep or not, people are better than their leaders. They keep lending them the best intentions.
And then they hear the bastards laughing.