God Must Be Watching
By Derek Seidman
How fortuitous! Just when you thought Fahrenheit 9/11 was dishing out anti-Bush conversions by the thousands (amidst the din of Yankee-fan boos directed at Dick Cheney), Bush's team has come to the rescue with a vengeance.
First it was Tom Ridge issuing a dire warning about how Al-Qaeda is (this time really) planning a major attack in the US, now with Bin Laden directly involved. Not much more information was given, other than that it may have something to do with disrupting the elections (but that they do have "credible sources").
Then there was this doozy: "War Rationale Based on CIA Error". As the AP reported on the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation:
"In the unanimously approved report, senators concluded that the CIA kept key information from its own and other agencies' analysts; engaged in "group think" by failing to challenge the assumption that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; and allowed President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to make false statements."
What more could the Bushies ask for? Now the president is in a better position than ever to portray himself as a dutiful president responding to the available intelligence properly. It's not his fault if the CIA fell victim to "groupthink", right? He was doing his job; they should've been doing theirs. I can picture the debate with John Kerry right now...
Soon after all this, we find out that the Pentagon has admitted that Bush's military records were destroyed:
"Military payroll records that could more fully document President Bush's whereabouts during his service in the Texas Air National Guard were inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.
"In a letter responding to a freedom of information request by The Associated Press, the Defense Department said that microfilm containing the pertinent National Guard payroll records was damaged and could not be salvaged. The damaged material included payroll records for the first quarter of 1969 and the third quarter of 1972." (AP, "Pentagon: Bush's Military Records Destroyed", July 9).
"Damaged and could not be salvaged". A good line: it really captures the essence of the Democratic Party, actually. The Bushies are utterly scandalous-- as this news may further indicate depending on how one looks at it-- but the Democrats continue to play by the rules of right-of-center, candy-cane politics. Who really stands for "values"? Which candidate would you more like to go to a barbeque with? Who makes you feel better when you see them standing next to an American flag?
We'll see how the Bush damage control effects things, but, considering how corrupt, groundless, and superficial much of the maneuvering to influence the election is (by both sides), the results could be swung by a whim, literally. Who is going to get out the right rumor or cover-up, at the right time, to manipulate voters into disliking the other candidate more? This is American politics for the most part, and the Republicans are better at it than the Democrats. It is high time a real progressive politics emerges that doesn't treat the American people like children to be moved and manipulated with rumors, insinuations, ass-saving moves, and fairy-tale nuances.
There are real, basic, fundamental issues out there affecting people's lives that are ignored by both parties. If truly zeroed in on with a fearless confidence, a democratic impulse, and a faith in people's willingness to follow their basic interests if given the concrete opportunity, a politics around these issues (living wage, full time employment, corporate domination, healthcare, education, structural racism, etc.) could change the political landscape of the country. As long as the issues that go beyond the bi-partisan consensus remain shut out of the discussion, we will remain shut out too.
(Derek Seidman, 24, lives in New York City and is co-editor of Left Hook (www.lefthook.org). He can be reached at email@example.com).