The election is over. LBJ lost Cronkite, Bush lost the people. The national repudiation of Bush’s war is complete, and already the Republicans and Democrats are in a state of total denial and prevarication. As one conservative put it of the war’s advocates, past and present, "They will all blame somebody else."
The left has immediately seized opportunity by advancing the notion that Bush was defeated by "moderates" who deserted him because he was a stubborn and arrogant conservative (after decades of arrogant liberals, they naturally want to stick the label on the opposition). That fiction enables leftists in congress to magically transform the election returns into a mandate for socialism — a goal actually not out of reach, given the bipartisan "big government" record of the last congress.
Naturally, the new Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was quick on the left-hand draw:
“We have learned from watching the Republicans — they would not allow moderates a voice in their party,” said Reid. “We must work from the middle.”
Well, for Reid, the "middle" is somewhere to the left of San Francisco. Millions of principled (and outraged) conservatives voted against Bush on Tuesday, but it was Bush’s scaremongers themselves who invited Reid’s fatuous falsehood. In the late days of the campaign, the Rovians realized that nothing else was working. Instead of telling the truth about the war, they tried to scare evangelicals and the GOP rank-and-file by waving the leftist agenda of Reid and Pelosi at them. With the Constitution and the country at stake, they played little push-poll games like middle-schoolers with a new Game-Boy.
In other words, they asked for it.
Sadly, when given the opportunity, Bush did not rise to the occasion and tell it like it is. Instead, he deliberately (having written it out beforehand) dissembled in his Wednesday press conference. Feigning humility (yes, he smirked and cracked a tepid joke), he pretended to admit humbly that "many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress" in Iraq.
As the undergrads are fond of saying, Mr. Prez, "NOT!!"
When it comes to preemptive war, "progress" is a Leninist term, one designed to indicate the successful concentration and consolidation of power in the invading imperialist force. The American people want none of that. The American people spoke not as "moderates" demanding more government, but as the virtuous people of Federalist 57 who are outraged at the destruction of the Constitution by a bunch of swelled-head third raters in Washington who flatter themselves with images of "Wilsonian Idealism" and Churchillian poses.
Bush’s contempt for the Constitution’s virtuous people oozed from every establishment Republican pore. If Republicans lose, our enemies win. Rick Santorum went around Pennsylvania demanding a new war, with Iran, and accused his critics of giving "solace" to Al Qada.
Well, 60% of Pennsylvanians are obviously treasonous. Now there’s a job for Homeland Security!
Yes, Republicans are outraged that Bush made the party a hostage to his war. But why aren’t they outraged that Bush made the country and the Constitution hostage to the decisions of a bunch of Middle Eastern Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis that few Americans had ever heard of five years ago? Why is America’s fate in their hands? Is this what Bush means by "exporting democracy"? By handing critical decisions our national sovereignty over to a bunch of foreign strangers?
Why must America’s future be mortgaged to the question, whether a bunch of foreigners with whom we have never even had a (debated, publicly disclosed) treaty will "stand up" or "stand down"? Where is that in the Constitution?
Bush appears to be listening not to the people, but to a cadre of drooling neocons who see a secret mandate in his disastrous loss: "maybe, in the end, [the loss] is a good thing — because he [Bush] can spend the final 25 months of his presidency focusing exclusively on securing a victory in Iraq," crowed John Podhoretz, flailing at reality like Cheney hunts — blindly and dangerously.
The media’s usual suspects coo and crow about a "new bipartisanship." Imagining Bush and Pelosi in the same room brings to mind Henry Kissinger’s famous comment about Tom Enders, a decidedly unaffable apparatchik in Reagan’s State Department: Henry the K, having met Enders, is said to have observed, "I have finally met a man more arrogant then myself."
In fact, there will be one fundamental and bipartisan crime in the new Congress: Cheney and Bush will not be impeached. Their trampling of the Constitution will not be examined, investigated, or prosecuted. Because Washington’s dirty little secret is that neither of the parties object to the unconstitutional seizing of power by any administration. Rather, each party just wants that power all for itself.
With Pelosi in power, the Democrats will refuse to end the unconstitutional war in Iraq. Instead, they will pretend, with Ron Brownstein of the LA Times, that "Bush and Rove placed their main emphasis on unifying and energizing Republicans and right-leaning independents with an agenda that focused squarely on the goals of conservatives." This outright falsehood serves the fiction of the left that, in rejecting Bush’s war in Iraq, Americans are demanding — more socialism!
Where does that leave us? Lovers of liberty must recognize that both parties are corrupt, and that, having learned nothing, both parties will continue pushing (who can call it "leading"?) America in a downward spiral of unconstitutional gamesmanship and powermongering. The solution to our crisis will never come from the political class as presently constituted.
A footnote. In the various conservative coalition meetings and conference calls on Wednesday, some folks have observed, truthfully, that a handful of "good Representatives," including one Hoosier who had opposed the war from the outset, had lost on Tuesday not through their own fault, but because of the bungling Bush. What a shame, they lamented.
Well, maybe. But look at it this way. Every one of those defeated Representatives is still alive. Rumsfeld is still alive. Richer Perle is still alive, for that matter. Their lives will go on as before, and will go on comfortably.
And what of the thousands upon thousands of American servicemen and servicewomen killed and maimed in Iraq because of the bungling Bush? The president who smirks and dissembles still about his war, after being resoundingly repudiated by the people? Who implies that today’s Americans are too dumb to understand his wisdom, but that future generations will make him out to be a hero, not a zero?
Those fine Americans who faithfully served in the military are still dead, still maimed. Their families still mourn, their lives forever traumatized. It was in the name of these fine Americans that voters demolished Bush on Tuesday. America took back from Bush the flag he had wrapped himself in, and claimed it for themselves, the virtuous people of Federalist 57, and for the Constitution and its limits on power. America supported the troops on Tuesday. Major league, big time.
But Bush still thinks that history will vindicate him.
Well, Americans have put it another way, emphatically: Bush is history.