From ‘Stay the Course’ to ‘Flexible Response’

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‘Throw the Rascals Out’

by Eric Margolis by Eric Margolis

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US mid-term congressional elections are often humdrum affairs that usually produce low voter turnouts. But this November 7th’s vote is shaping up as the most exciting and important mid-term election in modern American history.

The upcoming vote has generated extraordinary interest around the globe. Polls in Asia, Europe, and Latin America show the widely-expressed hope American voters will deliver a stinging rebuke to the Bush Administration and end its war in Iraq.

Last week, a senior State Department official finally spoke the truth about administration policies in Iraq, calling them u201Carrogant and stupid.u201D He later retracted his statement, but the damage was done.

Illustrating this point, the increasingly out of touch Vice President Dick Cheney just assured Americans the catastrophic war he and the neoconservatives engineered in Iraq was going u201Cremarkably well.u201D President Bush ordered the powerless US-installed government in Baghdad to u201Cget toughu201D with powerful Shia militias.

Panicked by the looming specter of defeat in Iraq, George Bush suddenly declared his cherished mantras — u201Cwe won’t cut and runu201D and u201Cstay the courseu201D — inoperative. The new party line: u201Cflexible response.u201D

Meanwhile, John McCain, the current Republican frontrunner for the 2008 presidential election, is daftly calling for doubling of US troops in Iraq, which would mean reinstating national conscription.

But Bush’s new motto looks more likely to be u201Cfudge and fleeu201D as he scrambles for a face-saving way out of the disaster in Iraq. Things are so bad, the Bush Administration is actually pleading with u201Caxis of evilu201D members Syria and Iran to help it out of the Iraq mess.

Yet many Republicans still keep hoping their politics of stupidity will continue to fool American voters. Wiser Republicans are swiftly backing away from the increasingly unpopular president.

Republicans and demagogues of the Christian far right have joined to promote fear, religious and racial hatred, and the crassest jingoism to America’s most gullible, poorly educated voters.

Staggering subsidies for farmers, tax breaks for big business, doubling military spending, and unlimited support for Israel, won Republicans more support from key voter groups.

Today, however, Republicans have sunk to their lowest point in memory. Only 16% of Americans approve of the job the Republican-run Congress is doing.

The US Constitution established Congress as America’s premier arm of government. George Bush, Dick Cheney, and their neoconservative allies used 9/11 to turn Congress into a rubber stamp like the old Supreme Soviet.

Look at the embarrassing Republican leaders in Congress, the world’s greatest legislature, the heir to the great Roman Senate:

The shambling Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, was a high-school wrestling coach. The once feared House leader, Tom Delay, was a cockroach exterminator before going to Congress. They were barely worthy of political office in Dogpatch, never mind Washington.

Both Republicans and Democrats are steeped in Washington’s endemic corruption and influence peddling due to the constant need to raise campaign funds by kow-towing to special interests.

Members of both parties voted like clapping seals for the Iraq War. But Republicans took the lead in promoting and sustaining that totally unnecessary conflict, now estimated to likely cost upwards of $1 trillion before it is lost.

Senior Bush administration officials responsible for the Iraq disaster — Dick Cheney, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and Colin Powell — made astounding fools of themselves before the world by chorusing a litany of grotesque lies.

It’s hard to think of another administration in modern history that has done more grave damage to US interests and reputation abroad, or so grievously undermined the system of Constitutional government at home. None of America’s foreign enemies have ever inflicted so much damage.

Politicians are all too rarely punished for their egregious misdeeds and dishonesty. But this November 7, Americans will have a golden opportunity to deliver judgment on the politicians and officials who misled them and the nation.

Voters will be able to punish many of the Republicans and spineless Democrats who voted for the illegitimate war in Iraq, and supported President Bush’s violations of the Constitution by spying on citizens, illegal wiretapping, and overriding laws made by Congress.

All American legislators who voted this month to ignore or violate the sacrosanct laws of the Geneva Convention and the basic right of habeas corpus, and who disgracefully voted to legalize torture, should be ousted.

American voters will hopefully ignore all the fear-mongering they have been subjected to and remember the basic and most important tenet of democratic politics: u201Cthrow the rascals out!u201D

(Eric Margolis is a life-long Republican, who feels that his party has left him.)

Eric Margolis [send him mail], contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website.

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