Column: Implausible Denial
Mr. Carpenter holds a Ph.D. in American History and is a syndicated columnist.
The complex causes of our collective denial are for another day, although the pathological effect is simple, inescapable and in need of hasty broadcast from every hilltop: American democracy is imperiled from both above and below. The autocratic fox runs free while each chicken assures the other with the immortal last words of H.G. Wells: "Go away. I'm all right." Left unchecked, democracy is toast.
Our capacity to be informed and stay informed dwindles daily as the doublespeak crowd further encroaches on open and honest government. The press, God knows, is out to lunch when not in bed with the Bushies, leaving only the public to demand accountability. To date there's been a deplorable shortage of such a demand. Denial may be easier for the time being, but it's a cumulative and lethal poison to a democratic body.
There endures no reasonable reason for the electorate's state of denial. Like some conscience-void timeshare salesman, Bush Inc. since Day One has dissembled about virtually everything of import. That history is long and well known, even if dismissed. The administration's latest rhetorical whopper, however, should be enough to convince not only moderates but heretofore administration-loyal conservatives that when it comes to governing honorably, the White House wild bunch is beyond all hope.
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When the president's national security adviser insults thoughtful observers by splitting the finest of rhetorical hairs -- sure, the Africa thing was pure rubbish, "but the statement that [the president] made was indeed accurate" -- and when his top man at Defense plays similar word games about a presidential lie being "technically correct," one wonders if these pettifogging pooh-bahs could have any respect left for themselves. We know they have none for us.
And when the leader of the free world brushes aside answerability for thousands of unnecessary deaths and the torching of principled interventionism by saying that the end justified the means -- so why dwell now on all those prewar arguments he huckstered -- then all of us, right down to every conscientious conservative still standing, can conclude with flawless justification that this administration is unredeemable. (And do keep in mind, "the end" now praised by the president is $4 billion a month flushed into the Tigris and a dead American a day.) No longer is there any supportable reason for any American to give Bush II any further benefit of the doubt. Doing so amounts to a self-revocation of Jeffersonian civic virtue and vigilance.
In a recent Washington Post op-ed piece, the far from radical former secretary of state, Madeleine K. Albright, synopsized with chilling clarity our present condition. "Three years ago, America had vast diplomatic capital based on the goodwill we enjoyed around the world, and vast financial capital based on our international economic leadership and a record budget surplus. Now our capital of all kinds has been dissipated and we are left with more intractable dilemmas than resources or friends."
The global community saw some time ago that this administration is not only untrustworthy, it actually goes out of its way to be devious. If ever our international friends were in a state of denial, their cognitive plight was a short-lived one.
Not so here. Too many Americans are stuck in the pathology of chronic denial; nevertheless it has grown too implausible to last much longer. Something must give.
© Copyright 2003 P. M. Carpenter
Mr. Carpenter's column is published weekly by History News Network and buzzflash.com.
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Gus Moner - 8/2/2003
Your obsession with Uday and what he could do to you is curious.
John Ashcroft, AG - 7/29/2003
You sound like just the sort of manly Christian fellow I need in my Dept. of Justice. The kind that doesn't mind shedding a little homo blood to purify the Homeland, if you get my drift. You are probably a lot like me and want to kick a little A-rab butt. Those GD towelheads! If you do, load up your twelve-gauge and head on down to Washington, D.C. Yee-ha-aaaaaa!!!!!!
John Ashcroft, Attorney General
George OIlwell - 7/26/2003
Does that mean you'd support the idea of Ms. Rice (R-Chevron) & General Powell (R-My Lai Coverup) appearing before a Congressional Committee to answer a few questions (under oath)?
Elia Markell - 7/26/2003
What the heck, she did after all, after only THREE years, pull the plug on U.S. backing for Jesse Jackson in his relentless campaign to shore up the legitimacy of Charles Taylor. Yes, remember that. Now that Bush is also taking care of that little mess, do not expect the Congressional Black Caucus to call for hearings on the Jackson angle in the story. Madam M was a bit late on the matter, which could be said to be the summative theme of the entire 1990s.
See this on the whole sordid matter:
Elia Markell - 7/26/2003
Yes, indeed, Profpaul, you've found me out. I selfishly applaud the actions of W in ridding the world of Uday. I was fearful, after all, that I and MY wife might run into him at some cocktail party and he'd grab her and shoot me. I have to admit, I care not a wit for the poor fools in Iraq who now have to contend with which of 100 uncensored newspapers to read and no longer have Uday around to defend their honor. I just want what's mine.
George Oilwell - 7/25/2003
Madeleine Allbright may well be considered a "success", compared to Ms. Rice (R-Chevron), or General Secretary Powell (R-My Lai).
Stephen Kriz - 7/25/2003
Bush has never apologized for anything in his life. He was raised in an atmosphere of privilege and never had to. He will never, ever admit that he is wrong. People from his background feel they don't have to.
Bush is an arrogant prick who never takes responsibility for anything and hates the truth, because it makes his worldview and agenda look petty, selfish and immature, which it is.
Stan P. - 7/24/2003
A question regarding the quote from Madeleine, and her listing as "...the far from radical former Secretary of State..." perhaps this is a typo. Might that be meant to read, "...far from competent...", or "... far from succeeding in any given region..."? What, where, when and how can she be described as being a success?
tcg - 7/24/2003
Certainly the economy was "totally different". It was a totally different economy. America was still an industrial powerhouse, many of the objects we use everyday were not even dreamed of in 1961. Yet the answer to stimulating a drooping economy was tax cuts. If JFK didn't give tax cuts to the "richest, greediest and sleaziest" than where did they go. I haven't checked on the tax structure in the late 1950s, but I bet most folks weren't paying taxes. The tax creep downward relative to income levels came later if I remember correctly. On another note, one might be careful throwing "stolen election" bromides and "JFK" into the same mix. It's deja vous all over again.
George Oilwell - 7/24/2003
"Let us not forget that, along with this particular exhortation from JFK, he also initiated deep, successful, across the board tax cuts."
And, lest you forget, the economic situation was totally different then, than today. JFK didn't enact tax cuts to primarily benefit the richest, greediest, and seediest amongst us - bush has pushed class warfare wealth transfers to the rich, since even before he stole the election.
TCG - 7/24/2003
Let us not forget that, along with this particular exhortation from JFK, he also initiated deep, successful, across the board tax cuts.
Byron Boyd - 7/24/2003
For this administration the goals (particularly the one of cutting taxes for the wealthy, consequences be damned) remain constant, while the rationale keeps shifting to fit changing circumstances. Sounds a bit like Winston Smith's job at the Ministry of Information, doesn't it? Getting Tenet to take the fall for the African uranium fiasco is just the latest example that this guy has no use for the sign on Harry Truman's desk: "The buck stops here".
Profpaul - 7/23/2003
And why is this true? Because Bush and the ultra-rights are mining a deep vein in the American character: selfishness. Note how the past few Republican administrations have paid lip service to volunteerism and self-sacrifice, while their actions speak to their true concerns. Bush promised support and even expansion of Americorps and is now presiding over its disappeaerance. You can look at the personal histories of the administration’s top guns such as Rumsfield and Cheney to chart role models of self-sacrifice.
No, the truth lies in selfishness and greed. Bush predicates his tax cuts on this premise. So long as I get mine, what do I care if the economy goes to hell? If deficits mushroom? What do I care if someone else’s kid dies in Iraq, as long as I’m safe and comfortable? Bring ‘em on!
Not everyone feels this way, but Bush only needs a slim majority of the voters. His strategy only increases the “I got mine” mindset. Remember: in 1960, newly-inaugurated John Kennedy urged people not to ask what the country could do for them,--how much money can you mail me today?—but what people could do for our nation. Bush after 9/11 encouraged everyone to go shopping.
In the words of the great Stan Lee, ‘nuff said.
Don Thompson - 7/22/2003
I've known the truth ever since Bush stole the election. I know who my enemies are and I will fight to the death to kill them all when the bullits start flying. That goes for you fucking queers out there too.
Joey G - 7/22/2003
About the only thing Americans really care about is wealth. A good strong recession / depression will get em peeved.
And that's too bad. The American people really don't practice the principles they preach.
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