Every once in a while it makes a lot of sense to step back and look at the big picture. Over the last few months (maybe 18 or so) a lot of things have happened on the United States political scene. Each change has come and gone and by now these events are only distant memories that the 24-hour news cycle encourages us to forget. The 24-hour news cycle is a microscope looking at every detail in the long parade of history.
So, lets go back in time to the November 2004 presidential election. We should all remember that the race was very close and the arch nemesis George W Bush defeated John Kerry by the electoral votes of the state of Ohio. This time George W Bush won the popular vote, this election was actually once again decided by the electoral votes of one state, and that particular race was very close. And, in his speech following the announcement of winning the election George W Bush claimed that he had won "political capital," that he had planned to spend immediately. Well, as we have seen George W Bush spent all of his political capital, then he went to the bank several times where he borrowed even more political capital to spend just like all the real capital he is borrowing to wage his war in Iraq.
During the 2004 election George W Bush avoided contact with anyone that might even hint at disagreeing with him. He did this in order to insulate himself from public scrutiny. When people are shown large crowds of supporting people, the viewer tends to believe that the person subject to the praise deserves it. Without thinking, the viewer is persuaded to support the object of praise believing he is praiseworthy. Of course the truth may or may not be close to the images viewed, but the psychology certainly influences support. Of course, the opposite is also true, and the right wing smear machine managed to do the dirty work of the Bush campaign with a large number of lies and deceptions. The end result was undeserved success of the extreme right in the United States of America. But these people wanted their pound of flesh from George W Bush's pile of political capital.
These people wanted religious laws to be made secular law. They wanted George W Bush to pass their discriminatory anti-homosexual laws prohibiting families from legally living together. They wanted abortion to be criminalized. They wanted government money to go to religious schools. They wanted government money to go to religious aid organizations. They wanted creationism to be taught in public schools. They wanted the United States to continue to fight the good fight in Babylon in the hopes of bringing on the "End Times."
Who really knows what George W Bush was thinking. Perhaps he was afraid that he would loose his moderate supporters, or his fiscal conservative supporters, but he ignored these folk and decided that he would try to reform the Social Security Insurance system. He came up with the idea of everyone saving for their own retirement, instead of having a common insurance fund. He used the same hyperbole in describing the dire need to make this reform immediately. Fortunately the majority of Americans actually were able to figure out that everyone could already do this on their own by depositing their money into an IRA account. The only change would be to remove the protection of having a social security insurance fund. Looking back on history this seems to be the beginning of the public actually being able to see through the veils of the Bush administration secrecy.
Once the Republicans realized that the Social Security reform sham wasn't going to happen, they turned their collective backs on George W Bush who continued to push his plan for a couple of weeks more. This feeble push was finally seen as an example of the weakness of staying the course regardless of public opinion. George W Bush spent the remaining political capital that he had with this effort, but this is America and capital can be found everywhere.
He had his chance to win his political capital back when Sandra Day O'Conner announced that she would retire. The Bush administration had been planning for this day for the last five years, so John Roberts was waiting in the wings all ready to go. His public stance on many issues was sufficiently cloaked in mystery in order to be passed by the Senate without objection. However, Republicans used their secret codes to communicate to the social conservatives that John Roberts was their buddy. He would strike down abortion once he got the opportunity.
However, before John Roberts was confirmed Chief Justice Rehnquist died, throwing a wrench in the Republican strategy. And, without a second choice standing in the queue Bush offered his secretary Harriet Miers the jobs. Like they say, "If you can't keep it in your pants, then keep it in the family." Or, maybe that has to do with something else. The point here is that Bush spent very little time thinking about his appointment, so he picked a person in his close circle of friends. This bad move lifted the veil of how the Bush administration operates just a bit higher and the social conservatives were given cause to pause. Finally his supporters were seeing what the Democrats had been saying all along.
Of course we all know that most people have already forgotten Harriet Miers' name. And, the Bush crew likes when people forget their mistakes. But, after five years in office the web of lies was getting quite thick. For example, George W Bush told us how he really hated when people leaked information to the press. And, leaking the name of a CIA operative was certainly a serious offense. He even hired a guy to investigate the source of the CIA leak. And, by this time Patrick Fitzgerald, the guy hired to find the leak was zeroing in on top levels of the White House. The veil was being lifted even higher and the man behind the curtain continued to pull the levers and tell us not to look at the man behind the curtain. When Dick Cheney's right hand man was indicted the brighter Americans knew that George W Bush knew who leaked the CIA agent's name. Even the bright Republicans knew this and had another cause for pause.
Over in congress Tom Delay was having trouble defending himself against blatant breaking of Texas election law. His connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff were coming to light as well. Then when Duke Cunningham plead guilty to his corruption charges, people began to learn that the White House wasn't the only seat of corruption in Washington. Republicans tried to smear the Democrats with this corruption scandal, but it soon became clear that they couldn't win that argument, because the lobbyists on K street were overwhelmingly Republican oriented, because of Tom Delay's demand that Republicans refuse to deal with a lobbyist that also dealt with Democrats. They dug this grave, now they are on their own.
In September and October two hurricanes hit the Gulf coast. And, because the Bush administration and the Republican's goal of smaller government aid agencies FEMA was being left to slowly bleed to death from lack of funding. By appointing a political hack to be FEMA director the agency was given less power which took away agility the agency once had. FEMA now had a director without an emergency relief experience trying to communicate with the president through the Homeland security director. As my kids would say, "That's just messed up." They failed miserably with Katrina, then we all witnessed the disorganized evacuation of Houston only a few weeks later. We learned a little more about how the Bush administration rewarded political hacks with government jobs regardless of their qualifications. Hence the veil was practically removed from the White House. But there are still many who refused to look in that direction. There are many who would rather close their eyes and walk into walls than to witness the corruption, deception and lies coming out of the White House and the Republicans Party.
But, I haven't even mentioned the debacle in Iraq yet. But that isn't necessary, because last week Karl Rove conceded that the War was a weak point. He told us that the American people don't like President Bush because of the War in Iraq. I am sure that there are many people who don't like the president because of the war in Iraq, but they didn't like him long before now. They didn't like him when he broke international law and invaded a sovereign country. They didn't like him when he killed thousands of innocent Iraqis in his invasion. They didn't like him when they put American soldiers in harms way without a legitimate reasoning that the action was in the self-defense of our country. But, these people felt this way three years ago. Karl Rove is finally coming around to acknowledging it.
Well, I was just trying to bring all of these facts back into focus, because with the quantity of information it is quite difficult to remember the big picture. There are many many more things that I could have mentioned, like Dick Cheney's shooting incident, but this were more like humorous sidelights that weren't really illuminating the fact that Dick Cheney likes to shoot lawyers or kill farm raised poultry. We also have the bravery of many people who opposed the administration and did their part to expose the hypocrisy of the Republican Party. I believe that these people did their part, and of course we all need to keep the pressure on. Every time that the opposition lets up the Republicans declare victory. This reminds me of the Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail. The Republicans seem to have adopted the "stay the course" mantra of George W Bush. The opposition could severe every limb on the body politic, and the Republicans will continue to cry out, "What are you afraid of? Come back here and fight like a man!" And, so our job is never done.
Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."