Iím Not Getting Over It††

February 1, 2001 -- THE DAILY BREW

 

An odd thing happened at work yesterday.

 

I lost my temper.

 

A Republican coworker and I were discussing current events.I asked him if he was enjoying life in our new dictatorship.

 

"What do you mean, 'dictatorship'?" He asked.

 

I calmly explained that in a democracy, ballots are cast, and the candidate with the most votes is declared the winner, and assumes the office to which they were elected.In our country, ballots were cast, and then a court intervened to prevent the determination of which candidate had the most votes, and instead installed the candidate of their own choosing.That's a dictatorship.

 

He replied that the Supreme Court was merely following the Constitution.

 

It was at that moment that a seething rage that has been building inside of me for over a month, was let loose.I screamed "Bullshit!"I had more to say, but I startled myself with my anger, and held my tongue.

 

There really is nothing more to the story.

 

He is my friend, so even though I was angry, I was smiling when I said it.Despite my smile, he knew I was angry, so he simply laughed it off.Upon hearing my temper tantrum, others (including my boss) poked their heads out of their offices, and everyone had a good chuckle as they heard our little story and laughed it off too.

 

But back in my office, I realized that I wasn't laughing it off.

 

For me, it wasn't going away.

 

The normal healing process that follows a tragedy simply wasn't taking place.With each passing day of the Bush dictatorship my anger is not subsiding.Instead, it is steadily increasing.I don't know where this is going, but I do know it isn't getting any better.

 

In the meantime, I have gained some focus on Bush's strategy for stealing a second term.

 

It is clear that Bush has learned well the Clinton strategy of the "permanent campaign."

 

Of course, while Bush ran as a "uniter, not a divider," "uniter" isn't even a word, so even if he were trying to govern from the center, (which he is not), it was always going to be hard to hold him to that promise.But whether Bush is a "uniter" a "divider" or just a "discombobulator" the Bush presidency is going to be exactly like the Bush campaign.†††

 

The Bush plan is to appease his base in the Religious Right, unethically smear his Democratic opponents, and blur the differences between his administration and the Democrats on every policy issue where the majority disagrees with his party.

 

I call it "Bush's Gambit."

 

Bush knows that even if Al Gore didn't beat him decisively in the vote tally, Al Gore's vision of what constitutes good government certainly did. Large majorities of Americans sided solidly with Gore's positions on taxes, entitlement programs, defense programs and social issues, even if it was a somewhat smaller majority who actually voted for him.

 

The only issue where a majority of Americans favored Bush's policy prescriptions was Bush's call to privatize the social security system, and their preference for Bush's plan was narrow.So how did Bush win?Bush was able to keep the election close enough to steal it by motivating his base with polarizing positions on social issues, smearing his opponents, (first John McCain as unpatriotic and later Al Gore as a liar), and blurring the differences between his plans for domestic issues like health care and education with those of the Democrats.

 

So how is Bush governing?On his very first day in office he motivated his base by signing an executive order requiring that international groups that receive U.S. funding stop "discussing or performing abortions" and issued a written statement "encouraging ... anti-abortion demonstrators who marched on Washington to continue to protest."His cabinet appointments, particularly the now confirmed John Ashcroft, and his call for government subsidies to religious groups with "faith based" social services, were similarly designed to appeal solely to the theocratic right.The smear campaign also continued.Bush flack Ari Fleischer brazenly slandered President Clinton with the now discredited charges of massive theft and vandalism of the Executive Office Building and Air Force One.

 

Finally, Bush went right after the bread and butter kitchen table issues Democrats need to win crucial moderate swing voters.But on close examination, his education and healthcare proposals are half measures designed to give the appearance of action rather than to solve problems that need to be confronted.

 

I feel united, how about you?††

 

Bush's gambit was that as long as the economy kept rolling, middle America would remain under the illusion the Bush sold during the campaign; that the Clinton White House policy has no effect on their jobs.But the market is not as easily fooled as Rush Limbaugh's audience.Bush's Presidency quickly inspired the worst Christmas shopping season in a decade, stopping the longest economic expansion in history dead in its tracks.

 

With massive layoffs now being announced at companies around the country, I have a feeling a lot more Americans, just like me, are not going to "get over" the Bush years anytime soon.

 

© 2001 The Daily Brew

 

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