SOME KARMA COMES HOME
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- No one who studies human behavior - right or left, liberal or conservative - was surprised by last week's indictment of the vice-president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. If anything, the surprise was that only one indictment came down instead of 10 or 12.
Some call it karma. Some say "what goes around comes around." But if you watch people closely enough, you can often predict their future behavior.
A bully, for example, is always a bully. Stand up to a bully and they usually back down. A person who is open and honest might make a good friend. A person who is mean-spirited and vengeful is someone you probably want to stay away from.
It's just common sense, in this dangerous world, to try and protect yourself by studying the people around you. That's why many people believed that if enough people saw the Michael Moore film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," they would not vote for President George W. Bush.
Anyone watching Mr. Bush sit blankly in that Florida classroom for more than seven minutes after being told that New York City was under attack - sitting with that odd, sad mixture of helplessness and confusion on his face - could see that the man had no idea about what to do. In fact, out of all the heartbreak of those trying days in 2001, it was most painful to watch the American people and the media trying to rally behind the President, trying to convince themselves that they had a leader in the White House instead of a pampered marshmallow.
All over the world, people see President Bush and Vice President Cheney for what they are.
As reported by The New York Times on Sunday, Keith Reinhard, president of Business for Diplomatic Action and chairman of the advertising agency DDB Worldwide, says anti-American feeling is now hurting the bottom lines of major corporations, including Marlboro, Barbie, McDonald's, PepsiCo and U.P.S. And James Traub, writing in the Times' Magazine about Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize for Literature, noted that many European intellectuals, including Pinter, see "The United States as a moral monster bent on world domination. "
Given America's actions in the past five years, it's not hard to see why they believe that. But do Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney really represent the deepest core values of the American people? We as a people do not condone torture. We do not condone the invading and conquering of countries which have not attacked us. We do not condone the rape and looting of the environment and the federal government. We do not regard ourselves as Imperial Rome.
Yet Cheney, quoting Benjamin Franklin, put on his Christmas card a few years back: "And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid ?"
And in a 2004 story in the Times Sunday Magazine, Ron Suskind quoted "a senior Bush advisor" as saying, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too. Š We're history's actors Š and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." Such arrogance is almost beyond belief.
President Bush himself, we frequently read, believes God speaks to him. And in early October we learned that Mr. Bush believes God addresses him by his first name. That's when the BBC News broadcast a documentary series in which Abu Mazen, the Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, described their first meeting with the President in June 2003.
"I'm driven with a mission from God," the President told them, according to Nabil Shaath. "God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq Š' And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God I'm gonna do it."
Of course the day the story broke, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "That's absurd. He's never made such comments." But it sound just like him, doesn't it?
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Messrs. Bush and Cheney have had five years of absolute power. Collect enough of their arrogant, deluded, dangerous-beyond-words ideas, add to them the well-known machinations of Karl Rove, the man who toppled Texas governor Ann Richards by spreading stories that she was a lesbian (she wasn't, and who cares?), and it's not hard to imagine them outing CIA operative Valerie Plame for revenge on her husband, Joseph Wilson, whom with dead aim was shooting their lies about Iraq out of the water.
"What goes around comes around" is not a natural law. Many wealthy tyrants have died peacefully in their beds, surrounded by sex slaves and Old Masters paintings. But there are limits to human arrogance, and President Bush and Vice President Cheney passed those limits long ago. Maybe, with Hurricane Katrina, Tom DeLay, Harriet Miers and the lot, the tide is turning against them. Maybe, with Judge Samuel Alito, it is not.
Most of us try to be good judges of character. That is why I said that when special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald handed down his indictments, the only surprise was that there was only one. Given the nature of the men at the top of this administration, I think we might expect many, many more.
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about
culture, politics, economics and travel.