Commentary: They’ve squandered lives, fortunes and our sacred honor

McClatchy NewspapersNovember 3, 2008 

Here’s to the American people, the electorate, for finally coming to their senses and voting for something different, for someone different and for a chance to fix the multitude of man-made disasters that confront us.

By their votes, the Republican revolution and all it's wrought — an economic meltdown, two endless wars, class warfare that’s enriched the very rich and beggared everyone else and a treasury bulging only with IOU's — will be crushed.

That revolution began to take root with the criminality of Richard Nixon's administration, with its paranoid enemies list. It gathered steam in the time of Ronald Reagan and with Newt Gingrich’s seizure of Congress.

To be sure, there have been pauses, first during Jimmy Carter's four years and then during Bill Clinton’s eight, in the GOP's rush to recover — with interest — the presidential power that Nixon lost to a second-rate burglary and assorted other dirty tricks.

High tide arrived with the unlikeliest occupant of the Oval Office in our history, the beady-eyed, smirking, tongue-tied, counterfeit cowboy George W. Bush, and a Congress that after 9-11 was run by runaway Republicans who were too busy enriching themselves and their friends to care what their president was doing to the country, the Constitution and even their own party.

Little wonder, then, that Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin will go down to defeat after a campaign of sheer desperation that’s been nasty, brutish and long.

Bush and his clutch of unindicted co-conspirators will leave Washington at high noon on January 20, 2009, two months and a few wakeups from now, and good riddance to bad rubbish.

Oh, there will be more outrages as they leave. Bush and his gang are busy drafting and issuing Executive Orders and new regulations gutting the last surviving federal rules that bedevil their rich, polluting friends, and no doubt they're just as busy drawing up presidential pardons by the bucketful for themselves and their partners in crime.

These Republicans arrived with a strange combination of contempt for government and hunger for its power, and during their time in the saddle they've done everything they could to destroy the government and the Constitution that our forefathers so carefully constructed to check and balance any self-anointed monarchs' ability to do evil or accumulate dangerous and excessive power.

Where were we the people while this evil was being unleashed on us? Remember the fable of the grasshopper and the ant? We were, with the encouragement of our president, busy playing grasshopper. In the wake of the 9-11 attacks, our president urged us to go to the shopping mall. Go be grasshoppers. Consume everything, save nothing, live like there’s no tomorrow, like winter will never come.

Guess what? Winter has arrived.

In the name of national security, of homeland security, our right to privacy has been whittled away, legally and illegally. Big Brother has been listening, but only for our own good.

With the arrogance common to those who are ignorant of both history and the world, these people threw away our standing in that world, declaring that everyone must either be with us or against us. We hardly noticed as the world paid attention to what we did, not what we said, and then quietly chose the latter option.

In pursuit of our newfound civic duty as consumers, we hardly noticed that nearly everything we bought was marked "Made in China."

Made in China and bought on credit, our credit and our country's. Made in China and made with lead paint and poisonous plastics that threatened the lives of our children and killed our dogs, substances that escaped notice until far too late because the rabid deregulators had pulled our watchdogs' teeth.

They demanded unfettered capitalism, and in the hands of the Wall Street robber barons that was turned into pure evil, pure greed and pure folly. Now millions of Americans are losing their homes in the mortgage meltdown, and millions more have seen their life savings, their 401ks and IRAs, their hopes of a comfortable retirement, blow away like so many leaves on a cruel Texas norther.

They played on our fears like a mighty Wurlitzer Organ, frightening us with lies into an unnecessary war in Iraq. Frightening us into re-electing George Bush, even after we knew that he was anything but presidential, anything but intelligent, anything but a worthy, effective leader.

They frightened us so badly that we voluntarily surrendered the precious rights that a million American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and others bought for us with their lives during two centuries of freedom and democracy.

They used fear to violate international law, to torture and imprison thousands of suspected enemies without charges or trials. They used fear and invoked national security to suspend the right of habeas corpus, the foundation of our freedoms.

For these and far too many other sins and transgressions to list in so short a space as this, we the people have every right, and perhaps a duty, to cast them aside, and with them their only hope of avoiding justice and judgment — John McCain, who voted with them 90 percent of the time.

We're right to toss them all aside, and to hope and pray that it's not too late to start repairing the damage they've done to a nation that once was the last, best hope of mankind.

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