Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dionne The Mark?

I sure hope E.J. is right...
The Bush Era is over. The sooner politicians in both parties realize that, the better for them -- and the country.

Recent months, and especially the past two weeks, have brought home to a steadily growing majority of Americans the truth that President Bush's government doesn't work. His policies are failing, his approach to leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square. We dare not go on like this.


If Bush had understood that his central task was to forge national unity, as he seemed to shortly after Sept. 11, the country would never have become so polarized. Instead, Bush put patriotism to the service of narrowly ideological policies and an extreme partisanship. He pushed for more tax cuts for his wealthiest supporters and shamelessly used relatively modest details in the bill creating a Department of Homeland Security as partisan cudgels in the 2002 elections.

He invoked our national anger over terrorism to win support for a war in Iraq. But he failed to pay heed to those who warned that the United States would need many more troops and careful planning to see the job through. The president assumed things would turn out fine, on the basis of wildly optimistic assumptions. Careful policymaking and thinking through potential flaws in your approach are not his administration's strong suits.


[I]f ever the phrase "reinventing government" had relevance, it is now that we have observed the performance of a government that allows political hacks to push aside the professionals.

I especially like Dionne's implication that not only will the American people repudiate Bush, not only will they repudiate the Republicans, but they will repudiate the (mostly) Republican way of doing business, where cronyism and payback are elevated over competence and the public good.

And satisfying as it would be to see Bush and his posse finally dishonored as the charlatans and criminals they are, it buys us nothing if his Congressional enablers do not also pay a stiff price, and that should include the spineless appeasers on the Democratic side, the Liebermans and Bidens and Nelsons.

In a perfect world, the Republican-lite DLC would become the new Republican party and leave us liberal Democrats alone, and the hardline religious and fuck-the-poor Republicans would be relegated to the lunatic fringe where they have always belonged, and leave everyone alone.

Do I think it'll happen? Well, not really, not anytime soon. I think Dionne underestimates the power of inertia and the status quo, fueled by the narrow self-interest of politicians on both sides of the aisle (think gerrymandering). As long as the Republicans control the media and the machinery of voting, and as long as the Democrats cower in their can't-we-all-just-get-along defensive shell, American democracy will continue to suffocate and slowly expire before our eyes. But the Democrats need to fix themselves before they can even begin to think about fixing the country, and even then it's going to be a long, hard slog.

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