Think about it: George W. Bush has created such enormous and intense antagonism among 48% of the Nation that they are unanimously opposed to him and counting the days until they come out in gigantic numbers to end one party government in America. George W Bush has created such widespread disapproval among politically independent Americans that they want change in numbers approaching 80%.
With disapproval now growing among conservatives, the way of the Bush and Rove response is living proof of the core reason that he may remembered in history for a catastrophically failed Presidency and a long term disaster for his Party.
I challenge any honorable conservative to disagree and debate on even one of these points: The George Bush Republican Party is the Party of Big Government, Big Spending, Big Budget Deficits, Big Trade Deficits, Big Current Account Deficits, Big National Debt, Big Brother, Big Oil and Big Scandal.
Is there even one honorable and genuine fiscal conservative and libertarian conservative who is not deeply and profoundly appalled by this?
It has been said that Karl Rove is “Bush’s Brain”. The more important question is: Who is Bush’s conscience? With half of America in a state of total outrage, with independent America turning in 80% numbers against the status quo and with growing unrest among conservatives, what is the Bush-Rove response? Well, its their old standby, lets demonize the gays!
And: I would challenge any conservative to disagree and debate on any of this: Whatever the merits of the Iraq war, George Bush has done major damage to the readiness, recruitment, and morale of the Army, Marine Corps, National Guard, Reserves, CIA. As Hurricane Season arrives we remember that four years after 9-11 his disaster preparedness was so incompetent that an outraged Nation watched good people die in New Orleans because they were too poor, too elderly, too young, too handicapped and too weak to protect themselves and those who should have protected, did not.
We will soon commemorate the 5th anniversary of 9-11, the tragedy that the Bush partisans have endlessly tried to exploit when they should have brought the Nation together, and the most brilliant indictment of Homeland Security was written by a lifetime Republican and former Inspector General. Port security remains disastrously negligent, while border security has been so neglected for the five years after 9-11 that yet another divisive issue tears apart the Nation while a politically desperate President is reduced to criticizing patriotic Americans who sing our anthem in Spanish. Is this the pride of Republican conservatism?
Franklin Roosevelt said, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. John Kennedy spoke often of Profiles in Courage. Which conservative is proud of this: remember the days of endless terror warnings that coincidentally began right before the 2002 Congressional elections and mysteriously ended, almost literally to the day, on the eve of the 2004 Presidential election? Remember the week in 2003 when a President who shamelessly plays the politics of fear and a Vice President who repeatedly disappears to undisclosed locations created a panicked run on duct tape, bottled water and gas masks? Is this the pride of conservatism?
Which of the punk Bush supporting smear artists, virtually none of whom has ever served in uniform, who parade to the talkies to accuse almost anyone of being traitors, even cares about this: What kind of leaders send our troops to battle, unconscionably, so lacking in armor protection and equipment that the Marine Corps pathologist concludes, in the third year of the war, that 70% of the casualties were preventable? And then allow some of our wounded troops to return home and be charged for their sacrifice, and then pursued by debt collectors because they cannot afford to pay, and then be victimized by a Veterans Administration led by a former Republican Chairman that falls dramatically short of serving our heroes while creating the mammoth violation of privacy of veterans in the history of computers?
Think about this: America is engaged in a great battle of ideas against an enemy that murders children in houses of worship and cuts off the heads of the innocent, and our leaders have failed to win this battle even against an enemy so hideously evil.
And what is the response of Bush and Rove? When they are not demonizing the gays, they are waving the flag, preparing to challenge the patriotism of political opponents who prefer supporting those who wear that flag on their shoulder to using the flag as a partisan weapon in the endless political wars that will be the sad legacy of those who never learned that we are, indeed, in this together.
The reason America stands on the brink of an epic election is that this President, his party, and his apologist have let loose dark forces of division and dishonor that have divided our country, alienated much of decent opinion around the world, hurt our military, abused our freedoms in the name of a politics of fear and let loose in the land a kind of politics that violates the cardinal rules of two hundred years of the American family.
In this dark and demeaning vision of political war, anything goes, to win. A heroic Senator who will spend his life in a wheelchair as the price of his heroism is slandered by a guy who never served. A recipient of the bronze and silver stars is smeared because he is in the wrong political party. A Marine Corps hero who is one of strongest supporters of the troops who ever served in Congress is called a coward on the Floor of Congress. A Chief of Staff of the Army is demeaned by ideologues and partisans who were hell bent for a war they knew nothing about.
Six courageous retired Generals speak out with conscience and the editorial page of the Washington Times prints the statute on sedition. The cable talkies run segments with titles such as Hollywood Hates America. When the topic shifts to the atrocity of Haditha one of America’s leading right wing mouthpieces says these things always happen in way and cites, shame, shame, shame, shame and infamy to him, the Marines who took Iwo Jima and the Army heroes who took Normandy with the slander that they too committed acts that were comparable to Haditha. Who in the hell do these bums think they are?
The infamy of Abu Ghraib, the wrongs of Guantanamo, secret government abusing secret prisons with secret injustice, and the Attorney General of the United States says the Geneva Convention is some quaint and outmoded relic which in my humble opinion were the most dishonorable, despicable and ignorant words ever uttered by anyone entrusted to preserve, protect and defend justice in America.
The man who sits where Washington sat, where Jefferson sat, where Lincoln sat, claims he has the unilateral, inherent power to abrogate even the Bill of Rights The man who put his hand on the Bible with the trust that the laws are faithfully executed claims he has the unilateral, inherent power to violate the laws of the land at his personal whim, and at this writing, there are more than 700 laws that he asserts the right to violate today. The man entrusted with the legacy of Founding Fathers who were among the greatest and most timeless visionaries who ever walked the earth, claims he can operate beyond the reach of courts, beyond the reach of Congress, without the knowledge of the American people.
Here is our answer to this litany of outages. The Founding Fathers were right: they knew America, this land we love, this land we share, the land of freedom and democracy was based on timeless truths that were so brilliant and profound because they were so simple and so right.
We Americans are all part of a great family, coming together from different backgrounds, with different viewpoints. Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Franklin and the others knew that in our America, we begin with an attitude of mutual respect, shared patriotism, a willingness to put our little differences aside to stand together for the more important things that constitute our common trust. Then, the Founders created institutions that were built from that attitude of shared Americanism, separation of powers, divided government, a free press based on the right to know and on the judgment that an informed citizenry will ultimately take the right course whatever our differences and debates of the moment.
The partisan extremism, demeaning attitudes, divisive strategies, disrespectful contempt of the cardinal spirit of unity and the cardinal institutions of democracy have led George W. Bush and his vision of one party rule inexorably, inevitably, to a continuing series of catastrophic disasters that will only end, when the cardinal rules of Americanism are restored. That is what the 2006 election is all about. Across the Nation and around the world today, we now know, for whom the bell tolls.
A recent special about Gary Cooper, who embodies the spirit of a quiet and respectful patriotism, included a segment in which his daughter said that his greatest favorite of all was For Whom The Bell Tolls. It was originally written in the 1600’s by John Donne, became the title of the famous novel by Ernest Hemingway and the film based on that novel starring Coop, Hemingway’s great friend, and what a friendship that was!!!
Here are the words from the original For Whom the Bell Tolls, that Gary Cooper loved so much and Hemingway wrote about so brilliantly: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
These words, written a hundred years before Jefferson’s Declaration, embody the true spirit of the American idea, the roots of our two hundred year old democracy. The heroes of our great history understood what George W. Bush has never learned:
Thomas Paine calling us to rise together not as Summer Soldiers or Sunshine Patriots but as Americans in Common Cause; Abe Lincoln trying to end a bitter and divisive war by healing wounds and binding our nation back together; the Greatest Generation that won the war not to run the world, but to save the world for the freedom of all; and those indescribably brave and heroic men and women who five years ago charged with courage and honor into burning buildings from lower Manhattan to Northern Virginia, not for the petty cash of cheap shot politics, but for the honor and goodness of the America that we all share, to save the lives of our brothers and sisters, for a good and great and decent nation that stood together as one with these words:
United We Stand.
This is the message the American people are calling out for Washington to hear. 2008 will be a Presidential election with competing candidates offering detailed programs and plans. 2006 will be an Americanism election, the kind of country we are, the kind people we aspire to be, the kind of democratic values and institutions we must honor, the spirit of mutual respect and tolerance and shared purpose and patriotism that is the common trust of every man and woman gifted by God to be born in this land we genuinely and passionately love.
Our answer to the status quo is this: this land is truly your land, it is truly our land, it is the land not of Republicans or Democrats, not of liberals or conservatives, not of partisans or ideologues. America is the land of that Lady who holds up the torch, and there is one ticket to admission: that we honor and cherish how fortunate we are to be here, and that each of us commits, in our way, as best we can, when our number is called, when our America needs us, to ask what we can do, in return for all we have been blessed to be given.
George Bush should learn from, and even in anger his opponents should remember, that Jefferson if he were with us today, would be telling us, as he said in his Age: we are all Democrats and we all Republicans. Isn’t it amazing and incredible and dare I suggest perhaps even a message from God, that exactly fifty years to the day from the signing of the Declaration Jefferson and Adams, who in their lives were the closest of brothers and the harshest of opponents, died within hours together, half a nation apart, thinking of that Declaration, whispering of each other in their final breaths of life.
The Washington insiders don’t get it, but its really simple, this election is not about ten point plans, or public relations, or competing sets of consultants dishing baloney and calling it leadership. This election, which I believe will be an epic moment that will be written about by historians for generations to come, is about restoring our faith in each other, restoring that spirit that we all share a common purpose and a common patriotism. When we get that spirit right, we will get our institutions right, with a renewed respect for our Bill of Rights, reviving our checks and balances, remembering that truth is reached when an informed citizenry engages all three branches of government as the Founders intended.
Personally, when I think of all we have been through, and all that remains, I think of two of my favorite heroes; one is Jessica Lynch, the other a Marine I will tell you about, but not name.
I was at a bar near the Naval Academy on that cold night when news came that Jessica had been rescued. There we were, military families, Naval midshipmen, young Marines and we stood and cheered and high fived at the news. Remember those tall tales told by spinners dishing propaganda to drum support for the war. Made her sound like she had taken Iwo Jima single-handedly. Well she was brave, but it was exaggerated, and that is not the true story of her heroism.
Some time later, given the opportunity to exploit the tale, she said something to the effect that well, it was hard, but I didn’t do all those things. And I thought then, and now: Wow, that woman really is a hero. You bet, even if the truth of her bravery was real, but exaggerated, there is a higher truth, a higher heroism, a higher honor to Jessica Lynch. Someone once said that moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great skill, And Jessica’s modesty and integrity and respect for truth and honor, now that is the kind of heroism that no politician or spinner can fake. God Bless you, Jessica, wherever you are. I salute you. Gary Cooper, Ernest Hemingway, the Marines at Iwo Jima would all be as proud of you, as I am.
And here is a story about a Marine, like those early Clint Eastwood movies, he’ll be for our purposes the man with no name, but trust me, he’s real, and there are many like him.
Not many weeks ago, his body was blown to shreds in Iraq. Through the incredible work of the emergency ER, his life was miraculously saved. Both of his legs were amputated, and when he returned home he was greeted by applause from those who love the troops, and a bill from Uncle Sam that expected him to pay for his own armor, which he neglected to save when was laying unconscious as his legs were amputated.
This is the kind of shabby treatment and scandalous wrong that should be investigated in both Houses of Congress, ended by our self-named war president, and never again tolerated in America. But his story gets even better…
This Marine is still on active duty, has every right to be angry, has paid an enormous price for his patriotism, and what is his driving mission as you read these words? He wants to return to Iraq, to stand by the side of his buddies for the duration, not because he supports the war, he wont discuss his views on the war, but because this battle scarred man with no legs wants to be with the men and women in his personal Marine Corps band of brothers and sisters. I predict: somehow, in some way, this guy’s gonna make it and somewhere in heaven I suspect more than two centuries of American heroes are giving him a standing ovation.
The bell has begun to toll for the dark and partisan vision of one party government in America; I predict the experts and pundits will be stunned and shocked when the voice of the American people, which is not heard or heeded at the dinner parties and gala dinners and insider lunches in official Washington, is fired like a cannon announcing the revival of the American idea.
In conclusion, I offer one plea to those who are the most liberal, the most Democratic, the most angry and resentful of the injustices and wrongs and arrogances of recent years. I am with you, and I am one of you, but all of us, I hope, will remember this:
The message of the American people today, and the lessons of two hundred years of our history, is that the case we take to the country before the election, and our aspirations for America after the election, is not to let our opponents take us down to their level with our vindictiveness or anger answering theirs, no matter how right or deserved our feelings might be.
We love our country, we love our freedom, whether we take positions of opposition or support, we do so with a fervent spirit of patriotism, a respect with those of differing views, the love of truth and honor that was shown by Jessica, the indescribable courage and fidelity shown by the Marine with no name, the checks and balances, the constitution, the rule of law, the spirit of the great American family and the timeless truth that none of us is an island, and each of us is an indispensable part of the main.
Against each other, we are nothing. Together, we are America.
Brent Budowsky serves on the International Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit. Served with U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen responsible for intelligence issues. Served as Legislative Director to then Congressman Bill Alexander who was Chief Deputy Whip, House Democratic Leadership. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.