I don’t listen long to conservative radio talk shows. That would be like lingering at peep shows. But I can’t tell you about something said during these sermons unless I concede I listen a little. I usually don’t do so on purpose, of course. While searching for rationality, I accidentally press a button leading to self-righteous voices that chant: liberals are ruining the country. Conservatives never exhaust or bore themselves with this fatuous theme and they have a jolly good time embracing each other over the airwaves and pretending the liberal enemy is about to get them. Their logic is self-congratulatory in the extreme. Only the inherent superiority of white conservative Americans, fueled by their exclusive relationship with the Almighty – you know, the one who personally assured Jerry Falwell that George W. Bush will win the 2004 election by a mile – can save us all from damnation.
They’re damn proud to be the chosen ones. And they’re not only armed with the finest military hardware in history, they’ve got lots of radios blazing. Sean Hannity recently used his radio to tell us that numbers prove the overwhelming majority of Americans are just like him, righteous and way right. I don’t know which numbers Hannity had examined, but it doesn’t mater. We can all find numbers to prove what we want. The tabulations I’m going to use are these: Al Gore got more votes than George W. Bush in the last presidential election; the federal budget deficit is exploding; jobs are disappearing. Those are bad numbers for any incumbent president to crunch. Worse, more than five hundred Americans have died in Iraq for reasons other than what the president stated – Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was preparing to loose them on the United States, and Saddam was involved in 9/11. I told you so is grating, but, damn it, the hawks were told so, weren’t they? Didn’t United Nations weapons inspectors say they weren’t finding anything ominous?
Okay, Bush and his courtiers now concede, maybe there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction, but they were deceived. Faulty intelligence made them do it. So we either have to believe the president was hoodwinked by his own spooks or knew he had no self-defense argument for war but decided to attack anyway. Perhaps the president was compelled by his conviction that establishing a bulwark of democracy in the Middle East would help stabilize that region. And if that happens, Bush will be written into history as the architect of freedom and prosperity in a once totalitarian land, and will thus be a hero like General MacArthur in post World War Two Japan. Right now, that is quite speculative.
There is, however, at least one certitude that Bush and his backers, including even the barkers on talk radio, must now admit, if only in silence to themselves: this incumbent president who so recently was said to be unbeatable is in fact very beatable. He’s not as easily beatable as the recently invincible (in the primaries) Howard Dean. No, the president is a tougher opponent than that. But a lot of people who once trusted George W. Bush are asking themselves if they’ve been taken as suckers. They want to know if they’ve been treated as wage-earning stiffs too common to make ultimate decisions about where this nation’s blood will be spilled. The president wanted a war in a faraway land. Now he’s got one in the United States. His opponent will be John Kerry, who will probably invite John Edwards to join the team. I still don’t know much about Kerry and Edwards but I’ll bet they’d both be better for the country than George W. Bush.