I grant that its something of a relief to see evidence that, despite gerrymanders and Diebold, Roves "permanent majority" hasnt yet been locked in. And watching Bush contradict himself and accept Rumsfelds resignation was fun. But looking over the "Blue Wave," I just want to shout, "Where the fuck were you people in 2004?" More to the point, what do we know now that we didnt know two years ago? Nothing, of course. And now we have Roberts and Alito on the bench, the Military Commissions Act suspended habeus corpus, and thousands more Americans and Iraqis have been maimed and killed. So pardon me if Im not very gracious.
Please remember Veterans Day.
In recent years, however, I have acquired a new reason to dread reports of exit poll data. In cases of election fraud, there are varying levels of evidence, from tainted or lost ballots to unaccountable electronic tallies. It is impossible to conceive, however, of a serious challenge to an electoral result without widespread and rigorous exit poll data indicating that a plurality of voters voted for another candidate. The result of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio featured just such data, contributing to a poisonous unease that I cannot foresee ever lifting. We can fight for more accountable elections, but even if Diebold and similar systems are categorically rejected, I dont think Ill ever be able to watch live election returns again without an icy trickle of bile in my gut.
The "instability" resulting from the invasion of Iraq that most worried me (and, I imagine, many others excluding, tragically, Hitchens) was not that of Iraqi governmental institutions, or even any of the local players in the Middle East, but rather that of the Bush Administration. All of the purported concerns that the Bushies allegedly had that necessitated regime changeWMD, pursuing al-Qaeda, fostering democracyhave been given systematic short shrift by Bushs actual policies.
- Russian and Pakistani nuclear weapons remain unsecured due to willful neglect by the Bush Administration, both before and after 9/11.
- Osama Bin Laden was permitted to escape and the Taliban has reconsolidated control over southern Afghanistan.
- Safeguarding the Iraqi infrastructure and giving the Iraqi professional class reason to hope that strident political participation would not result in kidnapping and assassination have taken a back seat to force-protection and corporate graft in the Green Zone.
The best reason for opposing the Bush-led invasion of Iraq has always been that Bush clearly never believed in any of his stated war aims or principles, and that he valued the invasion and occupation solely to the degree that they created circumstances of domestic political advantage for (loyal) Republicans.
Nonetheless, I am less than comfortable with giving additional currency to the Foley scandal. Even though it points up the utter bankruptcy of the Republican lie that they have restored accountability and ethics to government, the story ultimately derives its notoriety and endurance from a breezy conflation of homophobia and the persecution of anyone tarred with the smear "pedophile." Legal and clinical definitions of age of consent aside, so far all weve heard about are e-mails. Nursing hysterial, puritanical, homophobic bluenoses is a tactic that will have "blowback" lasting far longer than the advantage of gaining a single House seat.
Jim and his crew have some sober thoughts, including the not-useless perspective that the Republic has been stained by previous outrages and returned to sanity. Dahlia, however, points out the truly depressing aspect of Congresss vote: up until now, the Bush Administrations extraordinary rendition, secret gulags, and pervasive culture of "smacky-face" were unilateral, exigent, and certain to be found illegal. Now, in a breathtaking lunge of hubris and cynicism, Bush has bluffed Congress into making it legal. Our Generalissimo asked if he needed to justify the detention of "enemy combatants" or let them have a trial, and Congresswe, the peoplesaid "No, thanks."
I dont really know what to say about this; before all Americansthose who came before and shed their blood against George III, Jefferson Davis, and Hitler; and those yet to come who will look back with contemptI feel a deep and abiding shame. Letting this wound demoralize us into apathy is surely Roves fondest hope, yet decency requires a moment of mourning and anguishit simply hurts too much.
The picture, I felt, was ambiguous and confusing: Publishing it might distort the reality as we had felt it on that historic day.
The people who would have been outraged by Hoepkers photo in September 2001 and continue to express outrage five years later were relieved by the simplification they thought 9/11 brought to their lives. "It was an act of war," they declared, and they have been desperate to keep that state of war going, lest they have to start thinking critically about enormously complex subjects, as the people in Hoepkers photo appear to be doing.