the ‘golden rule’…

Posted on Thursday 30 October 2008

I’m voting for Barack Obama this November for a very simple reason. It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W. Bush. It was bad enough that he launched an unnecessary war and undermined the standing of the United States throughout the world in his first term. But in the waning days of his administration, he is presiding over a collapse of the American financial system and broader economy that will have consequences for years to come. As a general rule, democracies don’t work well if voters do not hold political parties accountable for failure. While John McCain is trying desperately to pretend that he never had anything to do with the Republican Party, I think it would a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale.

McCain’s appeal was always that he could think for himself, but as the campaign has progressed, he has seemed simply erratic and hotheaded. His choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate was highly irresponsible; we have suffered under the current president who entered office without much knowledge of the world and was easily captured by the wrong advisers. McCain’s lurching from Reaganite free- marketer to populist tribune makes one wonder whether he has any underlying principles at all.

America has been living in a dream world for the past few years, losing its basic values of thrift and prudence and living far beyond its means, even as it has lectured the rest of the world to follow its model. At a time when the U.S. government has just nationalized a good part of the banking sector, we need to rethink a lot of the Reaganite verities of the past generation regarding taxes and regulation. Important as they were back in the 1980s and ’90s, they just won’t cut it for the period we are now entering. Obama is much better positioned to reinvent the American model and will certainly present a very different and more positive face of America to the rest of the world.

Even the neocon nuts are fleeing John McCain and his campaign of shame. The latest surfer from the right to catch the Obama wave to the White House is Francis Fukuyama. That’s right, the guy who literally wrote The End Of History has figured out that Barack Obama is history in the making and John McCain is simply ancient and erratic history. And Fukuyama nukes McCain, Bush and Cheney in the process. It is a brutally scathing takedown…

Yep, Francis is right; America was trashed and burned by a bunch of pricks with more balls than common sense, ethics and good governance. You could almost salute Fukuyama for a clear and true stand like this.

Almost, that is, if it were not for the fact that Fukuyama himself was one of those "advisors" with Cheney, PNAC and the neocons that helped Bush drive America over the cliff. You are a day late and several trillion dollars short Francis, where was all this good judgment when it counted?
To his credit, Fukuyama got off of the bus early [see The Neoconservative Moment, Summer 2004]. But it doesn’t take a Professorship at Johns Hopkins to see that the Bush/Cheney Administration has been a singular disaster, or that the whole Neoconservative version of American Hegemony was fatally flawed from the start.

he⋅gem⋅o⋅ny hɪˈdÊ’É›m [hi-jem-uh-nee, hej-uh-moh-nee]
  1. leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.
  2. leadership; predominance.
  3. (esp. among smaller nations) aggression or expansionism by large nations in an effort to achieve world domination.

Nor did Fukuyama particularly distinguish himsef with his perverse reading of Hegel in his book The End of History and the Last Man.

But Fukuyama is not why I’m posting his articles or bmaz’s [emptywheel‘s blogger cohort] response. I have another point. First, I hold these truths to be self-evident:
  • Neoconservates and their version of American Hegemony were not just misguided, they were wrong: These people saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and Russia as a communist superpower as an opportunity for America to direct the course of the world, by force – to become the world’s sole super-power, actively spreading our version of democracy. That was an arrogant, and self-serving idea, doomed at the outset. It was dangerously close to empire building and/or colonialism. The Neoconservatives would deny this characterization, but they’re in no place to judge. We could’ve been a world leader by example, but that’s not what the Project for the New American Century was about. It was about seizing this leadership by power, policing the world. They were wrong.
  • The Bush Administration itself was not populated by high minded Neoconservatives. It was populated by power-hungry, right-wing, greedy hawks. They used Neoconservativism to justify Imperialism. It’s no surprise that everything they’ve done turned out badly. So, as misguided as the Neoconservative ideals were, the Bush Administration added its own arrogance, greed, and ineptness to the mix, making a fine mess of things all by themselves.
  • Both the Neoconservatives and the Greedy Republicans were aided and abetted by the one issue Religious Right, Christian and Jewish, who share responsibility for this travesty of a government. All the Christians thought about was the Supreme Court appointments. All the Jewish Right thought about was America as the foreign policy arm of the Isreali government. And they’re still at it [see James Dobson].
  • Talk Radio and Fox News have played a massive role in the maintenance of the Bush Administration’s hold on power for the last eight years. They have fuctioned as a constant conduit for Talking Points and frankly misleading information at a level unheralded in American history.

If Obama is elected and has the support of a Democratic Congress, it’s going to be a different ball game. We’re going to hear a lot of excuse making. And we’re going to be tempted to want reprisals for what has happened these last eight years. There is much to be accounted for – the deceit that got us into the Iraq War; the unwarranted N.S.A. spying, the Torture Policies, the Unitary Executive/Signing Statements, the U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal, the Voter Fraud Program, the "outing" of Valerie Plame, the bugging the U.N., etc. And there have been a lot of people involved – some in ways that seem criminal. How are we to deal with all of this? Who gets let off the hook? forgiven? Who gets sent out to pasture? Who gets prosecuted for criminal behavior? And what of Francis Fukuyama?

This is not a trivial question. Dangerous precedents have been set during this Administration that threatened our governmental system in fundamental ways. I don’t know the answer, but I have thoughts in a few areas. While Talk Radio and Fox News are odious forces in American life, they are operating as a free press. What they say is their business.

James Dobson, on the other hand, operates Focus on the Family as a tax free religious organization. He’s established Focus on the Family Action as a taxable political entity. He always makes some disclaimer when he gets political, disavowing that he is speaking as head of Focus on the Family. Now take a look at his web site. Pray For Election Day and Dr. Dobson’s October Newsletter are both posted on the Focus on the Family web site, even though the latter has Focus on the Family Action in the pdf heading. Let’s face it, Focus on the Family is a political organization and should be taxed. It’s really that simple. If Dobson wants to influence how our government is constituted, he needs to join the tax rolls with the rest of us. This sham has gone on long enough.

Crimes were likely committed, particularly in the Department of Justice, the Office of the Vice President, and by Karl Rove. I want them investigated thoroughly and prosecuted if there is ample evidence. In particular, a Special Prosecutor’s investigation of the DoJ is in order. There is no reason to "cover over" the abuses of power that actually broke the law. To avoid such prosecutions confirms the assertion that the White House is above the law. It isn’t.

What of the Neoconservatives that live in the various think-tanks and provided the impetus for all this mayhem? If they didn’t break the law, there’s nothing to do about them, except change the channel if they’re on Fox News. Even better, don’t watch Fox News.

But my point is not about these people I just mentioned. When Bush got elected, there was a long period when Liberals, Democrats, Progressives, anyone who wasn’t singing the party line were demonized and treated with contempt. It was a vicious time. Monica Goodling was vetting people for any sign of liberal tendencies and blocking their careers. And I expect that was happening throughout the government. It was a party takeover, an ideological coup.

The Conservative viewpoint is an important force in American political life. Conservative does not mean Neoconservative. And I hope Republican means something more than Rovian dirty tricks. The fact that we were excluded and villified for the last eight years does not justify our doing the same thing to them. When Obama says "bipartisan," I think he means it. We’ve lived with a virtual "one-party" system for six of the last eight years, and it has been a nightmare. It would be very wrong of us to do the same thing in retaliation. This is a time to take the high road, no matter how hard it is after this blitzreig and all the contempt. As for Francis Fukuyama, he saw the light early. There’s no penalty for being wrong, particularly when you realize it. Good for him. We need that vote he’s casting for Obama. Thanks…
    October 31, 2008 | 11:18 AM

    I just watched Rachel Maddow’s interview with Senator Obama from the day before yesterday and in the first part of the interview he was asked (essentially) why he was not maligning Republicans and Conservatives in the same way that “they” were maligning him. What he said is that he believes the Republican Party has itself been “kindapped” (hijacked may have been closer to the truth) by incompetent ideologues and as far as he was concerned there were plenty of “self-identified” Republicans that he believed needed not only to be heard but needed to be at the problem solving table if, indeed, any useful progress is to be made on any one of the myriad crucial issues of the day which the now utterly rudderless and bankrupt administration is leaving as its “gift” to America (this last phrase not Senator Obama’s but rather the pained opining of someone else who has been wrong but saw the light by early March, 2001).

    Here’s to a return of reason and leadership on Tuesday – thanks too to Powell, Parker, Buckley, Adelman, Brooks, Will and lots of other self-identified Conservatives and Republicans who care enough about their country to press whatever influence they can in the service of ending this long nightmare!

    October 31, 2008 | 1:51 PM

    […] friend Carl in response to the golden rule I just watched Rachel Maddow’s interview with Senator Obama from the day before yesterday […]

    November 1, 2008 | 9:37 PM

    […] on Saturday 1 November 2008 Recently, I was writing about Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family: … James Dobson, on the other hand, operates Focus on the Family as a tax free religious […]

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