by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
February 7, 2008
VERMONT AND THE 5 STAGES OF CONSERVATIVE GRIEF
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- First, Vermont tried to convince the nation to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
It didn't work.
Now, it's time to up the ante.
At this year's Brattleboro town meeting, representatives will vote on a article calling on the town to indict Bush and Cheney for crimes against humanity and to have them arrested if they set foot in town.
Yes, it is a purely symbolic gesture, but it certainly raised the ire of conservatives all over the country. Brattleboro's Municipal Center was swamped last week with hundreds of phone calls and more than 7,000 e-mails.
The first couple of days, most of the calls and e-mails contained sputtering, uncontrolled rage, mixed in a with few death threats. Fortunately, the rage subsided after a couple of days and the supportive calls and e-mails started to outnumber the deranged ones.
The level of rage from those who still believe that President Bush can do no wrong is astounding to behold. It's surprising that there still are that many people in America who support Bush. But put yourself in the shoes of a diehard Bush supporter, and you can see why they are sputtering at Brattleboro.
You believed President Bush would avenge the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but Osama bin Laden has never been captured and Afghanistan remains a safe haven for al-Qaida.
You believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq posed a grave threat to America, but the WMDs turned out to have never existed and all the rationales for war turned out to be lies (see www. publicintegrity.org/WarCard for a fully searchable database of hundreds of false statements issued by the Bush Administration in the two years after 9/11).
You believed him when President Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, below a banner that read "Mission Accomplished," and proclaimed that major combat operations in Iraq were over. Now, nearly 4,000 Americans and about 1 million Iraqis have died in a conflict that was only supposed to last a few weeks and now is about to enter its sixth year.
You believed that President Bush would create a leaner, more efficient government, yet the size of the federal government has expanded and the federal budget surplus he inherited in 2001 is now a $9 trillion deficit.
You believed America would remain the unquestioned No. 1 superpower in the world. Now we're the No. 1 debtor nation, the dollar is weaker than it has been in decades and our influence on world affairs shrinks by the day.
In the face of all this, some little pipsqueak town in Vermont dares to call your president a war criminal and calls for his indictment and arrest.
The man you believed was destined for greatness is now headed for the dustbin of history. Future historians will rate George W. Bush as the worst president ever. And the last remnants of the conservative majority you thought would last for decades will likely be swept away in November's election.
Sure, there is absolutely no chance that Brattleboro will indict and arrest Bush and Cheney. But three years ago, impeachment seemed like a crazy idea, too. Conservatives laughed at Vermont in 2005 when Town Meeting voters around the state approved resolutions calling for Bush's impeachment. Now, the intransigence of the Democratic Party leadership in Congress is all that's preventing impeachment from taking place.
Nobody likes to be on the wrong side of history. If you're feeling charitable, you could almost feel sorry for the people who attacked Vermont from the safety of their computer keyboards. Everything they believed in has been betrayed by an Administration that exploited their trust.
Watching these people reminds me of the late psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' famous "Five Stages of Grief."
They haven't really dealt with the first stage, denial and isolation ("Is Bush really that bad? It can't be.") Judging from the e-mails I've seen, they're very deep into the second stage, anger.
They're entering the third stage, bargaining ("Maybe if we can find a real conservative like Ronald Reagan, everything will be better.") Stage four, depression, may be starting to sink in as they see that their likely presidential candidate for 2008 is John McCain.
I'm not sure if they will get to the final stage, acceptance ("Maybe John McCain isn't really that bad, after all.") For the good of the nation, I hope they eventually do.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.