by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
March 8, 2007
HOW DOES AN ERA END?
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- From the beginning of the long nightmare that has been the Presidency of George W. Bush, I have wondered how - or if - it might end.
Remember those light-in-a-tunnel jokes that started in the Vietnam
era? The light in the tunnel is probably another train. The light in the
tunnel is a flashlight held by a 800-pound gorilla. And she's hungry. The
light at the end of the tunnel is a fuse. There is no light at the end of
the tunnel. That's how I felt.
Even before the first presidential election, I thought I knew (didn't you?) - by reading the sainted Molly Ivins, by understanding the S&L scandal, from cringing at Dick Cheney's demented pit-bull machismo and Karl Rove's Texas machinations, and by thinking things through - just how bad things could get if President Bush and Vice President Cheney got into office.
My imagination, however, failed me. I thought they'd just rape the countryside, stuff the money into sacks and then get out. I never dreamed they'd rape Iraq, too. Or that once their scheme fell apart, they'd try the same thing in Iran.
The flow of public life can be compared to the arc of a pendulum. Once it hits a great high - even a great right-wing-nut-job high - it must bow to the forces of nature and swing slowly back. For six years, with my teeth clenched, I've been waiting for the pendulum to swing.
In the beginning, when the neoconservatives were rampant, triumphant and engorged with their lust for power, I was afraid they might never leave. Especially after they turned Sept. 11 into their own private Reichstag fire.
I figured that as their terms ended, they would stage an attack on American soil, call a national emergency, take over command of the troops, ditch our democracy under some catchy name, put the dissenters and protesters in jail, and rule on and on. Maybe they wouldn't be tacky enough to use a gold crown, but I couldn't see what could stop them. Congress was a true believer. The Democrats were cowed. The press was cowed. People could protest in the streets for weeks on end without anyone noticing, much less caring, that they were there.
Then things went to hell in a hand basket for the President, Mr. Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld et al. They screwed up Iraq so badly that nothing could cover their mistakes.
No flower-throwing Iraqis. Private contractors who liked to torture. Multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts for their friends. No body armor for the troops. Privatizing the oil fields.
It's been one outrage after another, and the warning "support the troops or you're a terrorist sympathizer" can't hold up forever, not when the troops keep on dying.
The insurgents - you can call them al-Qaida or freedom fighters, but you and I would be them if someone tried to do to America what America did to Iraq - believe that the American public can't stomach endless casualties. When the casualties are needless, on all sides, they're right.
The pendulum slowly started swinging. Cindy Sheehan put her body on the line when no one else would. Soon she was leading a movement. The press began to find its courage. Judith Miller, the cheerleader for the Iraq war, is gone from The New York Times. The public began to question its leaders. The 2006 election happened. The Washington Post exposed how poorly our wounded soldiers are being treated at Walter Reed Hospital. Scooter Libby, anyone?
Messrs. Bush and Cheney are just bullies. When they're opposed they turn tail and run. Remember the "political capital" President Bush claimed to have when he tried to privatize social security? Even his little lapdog, the AARP, rolled over and bit him. He quickly retreated. Rumsfeld was forced to retire. The word is that Cheney will be resigning in about three weeks. And now the U.S. will hold talks with Syria and Iran - not our dearest friends - about the Iraqi quagmire.
Once I thought they'd never leave. Now I think they're counting the minutes. I can smell the flop sweat all the way up here in Vermont.
What can we do? Impeach them? I'm very proud of my little town of Dummerston, which voted for Mr. Bush's impeachment last year and added Cheney to the list at this week's Town Meeting.
By now, about 40 Vermont towns have voted for impeachment. But the gears of the federal government turn slowly, and by the time we get a national impeachment movement started, these two will be long gone. I'm beginning to understand, in fact, why the President bought all that acreage in Paraguay last year. I'll bet Paraguay doesn't have an extradition treaty with the U.S.
I've decided impeachment makes more sense as a symbol than as an action plan. It's a loud cry of "we-have-to-hold-our-noses-when-we-look-at-you." But then, don't the poll numbers accomplish the same thing?
Instead of impeachment, I would like to see a movement to arrest these people for war crimes and crimes against humanity. I would like to see President Bush, Mr. Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest standing in the dock at The Hague, answering to the world.
But remember Longfellow's "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad"? The gods, like the pendulum, have turned. Bush and Cheney are caged dogs. They have two more years.
Madmen with nuclear weapons and nothing to lose. We live in a very dangerous time.