INTERESTING TIMES, DANGEROU.S. TIMES
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Until this year, that old Chinese toast - or curse - "May you live in interesting times," was just a clever saying. "Interesting," of course, meant dangerous, chaotic, terrifying. It meant anarchy. It meant China under Mao. It shouldn't mean America under President George Bush.
But today our country faces internal dangers on several fronts, and the curse has come closer. It has become personal.
First of all, we face danger from the right - which you'd think had done enough damage already. But no, it's just getting started.
President Bush, his ratings in the toilet, is running scared. There are even rumors that he's been put on medication.
Mr. Bush's supposed "brain," Karl Rove, is under investigation. Vice President Dick Cheney, whom many suspect has been the strong arm of this administration all along, has come under full-bore attack at the same time he's stumping in Congress for America's right to torture. In other words, he's lost all sense of right and wrong.
His second-in-command, "Cheney's Chaney," I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has already been indicted.
Even The New York Times, usually a bastion of support for the status quo, is calling the idea of three more years of President Bush "unnerving."
"An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front," the paper said in an editorial on Nov. 8. "But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long."
As Susan Page of U.S.A Today said recently, Mr. Bush "is not toast quite yet, but he is definitely in the toaster."
The right-wingers may deserve what they get, but the fearful truth is that we are facing three more years with an incompetent and increasingly frantic President at the helm. He's already bankrupted the treasury and gotten us into an ugly war, making so many enemies for America that our children's children's children will still be threatened by them. Now he's in China, trying to start up another Cold War.
On the good side, Republicans were thoroughly whipped in the recent off-year elections. What gave many of us special pleasure was the fact that all eight of the nincompoops on the Dover, Pa., school board who wanted to add "intelligent design" to the curricula were voted out of office.
The election results suggest that the mood of the country has changed. Next year's Senate and Congressional races may be up for grabs. Yet the people who hold those offices will not willingly give up power. Things might turn ugly.
The second internal danger we face comes from the left.
Here we have paranoids pushing incredible and unbelievable scenarios as if they were the God's honest truth. President Bush is behind the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. (Try greed leading to cheap construction techniques back in the 1970s). Jews knew about the attacks and they all got out in time. (Can you say "Cantor Fizgerald?") The government is concealing new information about UFO's. (Again? Can you say, "So what?" Can you say, "Why would any intelligent extraterrestrial life want to come here?")
There have always been conspiracy-theory nuts, so why are they a special a danger now? Because over the years, much of what has been scornfully labeled by right-wingers as "left-wing," "lunatic" and "radical" has turned out to be simple unvarnished truth. Finally, people of common sense stand a chance of having their voices heard. Credibility has become a vital issue. We have more than enough real conspiracies to confront without creating imaginary new ones. (Can you say "no-bid contract"?)
The third internal danger comes from the middle - and I'm being truly kind here by calling the Democrats "the middle" instead of "the muddle."
Spineless, whipped and creamed like corn, the Democrats have spent five solid years caving into the Bush admionistration on every level. Al Gore? We're still waiting for him to protest the first stolen presidential election. Sen. John F. Kerry voted for the war in Iraq. Sen. John "I was wrong" Edwards voted for the war in Iraq. Sen. Hillary Clinton voted for the war in Iraq.
Only our former governor, Howard Dean, stood up to the Bush/Cheney war machine when it counted, and the Democrats are not sure they trust him enough to run their party, much less their country. They're still screaming "centrist" and pretending that "liberal" is a dirty word.
Some people cheer the possibility that we might soon be seeing viable female presidential candidates. At one point, that would have been a thing to lift the heart. But please, Condi Rice against Hillary Clinton? The country's doomed.
To recap: we have no leadership in the White House. We have an angry, brutal and caged Vice President who believes that God has anointed him Emperor of The World and who will have to be dragged out of office yelling and screaming. We have no credible Democrat to replace them.
The Chinese, who are, for a change, not living in "interesting times," own our assets as well as our asses. We couldn't put together an army on another front to save our lives - and it might come to that.
Because there are external dangers. The weather is out of control. Our currency is faltering. We are hated everywhere. We have virulent enemies in the Middle East who are spreading like wildfire. France. Jordan. London. Madrid. Home?
So as happy as I am that the country might be returning to its senses, this is no time to gloat. It's always darkest before the dawn, and the sun's a long way from rising.
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about culture, politics, economics and travel.