By George Gregoriou
I did vote on September 7. Am I celebrating the Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate? Well, yes, but, I am really celebrating the defeat of the Bush Republicans. Do I expect major changes? “Tinkering” is what we will have. Six years of Bushism tells us more than we need to know. It is the same Bush, the same Republicans, and the same supporters. In Bush On The Couch author Justin A Frank (MD) (2004) offers a psychoanalytic profile of Bush the person, from childhood to the presidency, his domestic policies, and the conspiracy to invade Iraq. The Bush family, according to Gore Vidal, is a bunch of nobodies. It is actually worse, author Frank suggests, and cites the traumas. The family did not tell George Bush (Jr) of the death of his sister (until years later). At the time of death, the family did not grieve. It had “quality time” together, playing golf. Bush, the teenager, Frank states, put fire crackers in the mouth of frogs and exploded them, for fun. To become governor of Texas he found religion to be his meal ticket, and his men saturated the parking lots with leaflets to destroy the character of Ann Richards, his Democratic opponent. As governor, he gloated over the execution of people on death row (more recently the death sentencing of Saddam Hussein). On occasions, Bush can talk for five minutes without notes, but only about war, death, and destruction, and with a smirk on his face. So, do not expect a total “make over” of this person, nor his associates. It is not possible. His “bi-partisan” approach will be like his “compassionate conservatism,” mentioned once in a while as a reminder to himself. His latest words were: I met the Baker group and was impressed with the people there and the questions they asked! His spokesperson stated that Bush will have open eyes and open ears (until they open up?). It is the same Bush who told his critics during the campaign that if the terrorists win, America looses. But aren¹t the terrorists winning with help from the White House?
A landslide on 9/7/06 would have been more pleasant, still as a punishment, not a celebration. What will happen in the next two years, and in 2008, we can only speculate. The democratic majorities can slow down the Bush war machine. More political deadlocks, paralysis, and bickering. But, isnʼt this better than an efficient government machinery in the service of the Bush agenda? An efficient government in the service of the people? Now, that is good. I will not hold my breath.
The way to judge the next two years is not what the new Congress accomplished, but what it tried to do. Was it in the right direction? Did it overcome the legacy of the last six years, more like a nightmare over the lives of the living? Were those who lied (with a straight face) on the WMDs, which did not exist, or lied about promoting democracy in Iraq, were they brought to justice? The Bush cabal insisted that the evidence for WMD be manufactured. Colin Powell needed three collaborations on the WMD, to come on board. The White House had only one ³evidence² from Chalabi and the INC. It was a lie. So, this lie was “spliced” into three separate sources and Powell came on board. George Tenet had no evidence, but he was told that Dick Cheney wanted a “yes” report. He gave them what they wanted, kept his job, and was awarded with the ³Medal of Freedom² for lying. These could not have been the people promoting democracy in Iraq, or anywhere on this planet, including the USA. The elections of 2000 and 2004 attest to this.
There is more. The lies abound. This White House lauded its legislation ³No Child Left Behind² while cutting the funds for the needy children. It even paid a journalist to write articles praising this legislation. The White House also paid Iraqi journalists to write positive articles on the US occupation and the progress being made in Iraq. Still more. Right after the election, Bush declared that he is still committed to privatizing the social security. That is, he is determined to send all the retirement money to Wall Street, the biggest gambling casino on earth. These lies, the scandals, the corruption, the manipulation of the elections, and the climate of fear are enough to make 300 million Americans angry, even take to the streets. It did, but just to deny the Republicans the majorities in the House and the Senate is not enough! At least lawyers in Karlsruhe, Germany, are filing lawsuits against Rumsfeld, Alberto R. Gonzales, John C. Yoo, Jay S. Bybee, and George J. Tenet (12 altogether) for war crimes, and the tortures in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Henry A. Kissinger is still sought for war crimes against humanity, in South America. They may never be tried, but they will be known hereafter as fugitives and persona non grata.
The immediate elections results are not enough for celebration. The White House will continue to force Congress to play by its own rules. It will have the initiative on foreign policy, framing the issues to put the anti-war representatives on the defensive, for the 2008 election, even forcing the Democrats to share the blame on loosing the war, the so-called “bi-partisan” agenda. Will the Democrats go along? They do not have the votes to end Republican filibustering, nor the 2/3 majority to override presidential vetoes. Moreover, many new Democrats in Congress are cut from the same cloth. Many shifted to Republican positions on certain issues to get elected. They are really bi-partisan!
The most troubling thing for the White House could be the investigations and hearings exposing the Republican cabal in charge of the White House in the last six years. So much dirt, so many crimes, to expose. I will repeat, the crimes committed in the last six years require a much greater punishment than defeat at the polls. But, how clean are the investigators doing the investigating?
I will celebrate when I see the minimum wage closer to a living wage, not just a few cents, in a bi-partisan celebration, proclaiming a few pennies is still better than nothing; when quality education is accessible to all children, from pre-schooling to college, not just for the few who can afford it; when a national health plan provides coverage to all Americans, one that focuses on preventive care, not curative (when it is too late and the knives are sharpened); when the environment is protected for all living things, with alternative sources of energy, and our food supply is not saturated with chemicals, pesticides, additives, hormones–in essence, preparing us for the best doctors that money can buy to intervene with knives to save our lives; when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land ends, and the persecution of Kurds and the occupation of Cyprus by Turkey ends as well. My wish list is much longer.
The war issue will be the number one issue. The Republicans cannot be trusted to pack up and leave. Neither are the Democrats. Many of the Democrats sent to Washington were talking about more troops to Iraq, replace Rumsfeld with a more competent Secretary of Defense, give the soldiers better armor and humvees, and do a better job fighting terrorism. It was the policy, stupid! Remember, when Nixon had a plan to end the Vietnam War. He could not reveal his plan (to the enemy)! His plan was: escalate the war into Laos and Cambodia, double the death of US soldiers 28,000 to 58,000, many more thousands maimed for life, and Vietnamese dead and maimed in the millions, many still suffering from agent orange. In the end, Nixon ended the war (the Vietnamese actually won) by accepting the same peace plan offered to the US in Paris when the US military death toll was c.28,000. What we may see in the 2007 Congress is the same costly/deadly war and “blaming the other side” game, a warming up for the big battle in 2008.
I will repeat: the political system in the US is dysfunctional. The laws of capitalism and the requirements of democracy are not the same. They can never be. Competition, greed, accumulation of wealth and power, wars, and control of the civil society and the government apparatus are the imperatives of capitalism. It is systemic, the government being part of this process, and the problem. It also functions as the scapegoat, the shock absorber, for things going wrong in capitalism. For example, IBM or GM fires 15-20 thousand workers, the unemployment rises, blame the government! The corporate controlled media says so. Con Edison pollutes the Hudson, blame the government for not cleaning it! It costs money. Give tax breaks to the rich, no money for social programs, blame the government for the deficit, for outsourcing jobs, etc! Why is the US government readily responding to the “needs” of needy corporations and not to the “real needs” of ordinary men and women?
Professor, Critical Theory and Geopolitics