Press reports are rife with speculation over what the country can expect from its newly appointed president-elect. Will George, Jr.’s administration mirror that of his father? He does, after all, look and sound just like his pop would if George, Sr. were able to shed about 25 years and roughly the same number of IQ points (and Big George himself was not, it will be recalled, the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree).
Will Bush be weakened by the perceived illegitimacy of his presidency? Will he be stymied by an evenly divided Congress? Will he be able to reach across the aisle to forge a bipartisan consensus? Will he be able to heal the wounds of a fractured nation? Yadda, yadda, yada.
Despite all the hand wringing by the press and pundits over the obstacles facing the incoming administration, it seems pretty clear that the Bush team has been emboldened by its broad-daylight theft of the election, and by the relative passivity of the American people, and will very likely move quickly and decisively to promote an exceedingly reactionary agenda.
So what specifically should we expect in the coming days and years? What does Team Bush have in store for us? The good news is that Bush’s policies won’t likely differ dramatically from the policies of Clinton. The bad news is that Clinton’s policies basically sucked. Spinning by the press and punditocracy to the contrary, Clinton advanced one of the most reactionary agendas of any U.S. president in modern times.
One of the first things we should look for is that the shortened transition period will be crassly exploited to ram through a number of questionable cabinet appointments, who will of course be perfunctorily confirmed, in the spirit of bipartisanship, by the hideously corrupt United States Congress. These appointments will receive, of course, considerably less press coverage than the early ‘diverse’ appointments.
Expect also to see Little George reach out to Congressional Democrats, particularly Senators, when passing out Cabinet posts. Besides the all-important illusion of seeking conciliation by ‘reaching across the aisle,’ which the press just loves to talk about, a much more important purpose is served by doing so: all Democrats siphoned off of Congress can be replaced with Republicans.
By doing so, the Republicans can regain their slim majority hold on both houses, which was largely stripped away by the election. But wait a minute, you say. Wouldn’t that be sort of like changing the rules after the election, which the Supreme Court just said was a no-no. To the contrary, it would be more like changing the outcome of a popular election, which the Court just said was perfectly fine.
The point is that the composition of the Congress can, and likely will, be changed to some degree through Cabinet appointments. The obvious advantage for the Bush team is that a Republican controlled Congress will facilitate the advancement of the Bush agenda … though this is not to naively suggest that Congressional Democrats would likely have stood in the way.
It will, however, be easier for the press to justify in the court of public opinion the craven complicity of Congress in green-lighting every reactionary proposal to emerge from the Bush White House. Having filled that house with fraudulent Democrats and overt fascists (and the basement, perhaps, with Ollie North and Co.), the Bush team will be ready to go to work.
Shortly into the new administration, expect a fire to be staged in the Reichstag, providing the pretext to dissolve Congress and usurp legislative powers …. Oh, wait a minute … I was thinking of another head of state that ‘legally’ assumed power. Never mind.
Instead, expect Bush’s much ballyhooed tax ‘reform’ to be prominent on the agenda. Don’t worry though; it won’t have any effect on you. Capital gains and inheritance taxes will undoubtedly be slashed dramatically, perhaps even eliminated entirely. Income taxes may be lowered as well, though primarily for corporations and those with stratospheric incomes. Some savings might even trickle down to you, but don’t count on it.
Expect also a stepped-up ‘war on terrorism.’ What this really means, of course, is an increased attack on the human and civil rights of Americans. We will naturally be told that our lawmakers are striking a balance between the rights of American citizens, and the need to guard against the nonexistent threat of international and domestic terrorism. In the name of protecting us, a wholesale attack on our few remaining democratic rights will be launched.
This is the kind of program that, we will be assured by the press, enjoys broad bipartisan support. Another bipartisan favorite we are likely to see is a new omnibus crime bill. More police, better equipped police, more prisons, more liberal use of the death penalty, restrictions on appeals, more behaviors criminalized, greater cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies: all of this and more is necessary if we’re to get serious about being ‘tough on crime.’
Two buzz words to be on the lookout for from Team Bush are ‘privatization’ and ‘deregulation.’ For the Bushwhackers, the more of both, the better. Schools, healthcare facilities and prisons are prime candidates for privatization, along with, of course, Social Security and Medicare. Deregulation could strike anywhere, at any time, touted as a way to lower consumer costs by increasing competition. Expect sudden and drastic price increases to follow any act of deregulation.
In the field of foreign policy, look for an increasingly belligerent attitude towards Poppy Bush’s old buddy, Saddam Hussein. Never mind that the belligerent attitudes of the two previous administrations have cost as many as two million Iraqis their lives, as a result of the U.S.-imposed sanctions, the still frequent bombings, and the lingering environmental damage caused by the extensive use of radioactive depleted uranium.
It’s time now to really get tough with Iraq. Tough enough, perhaps, to take modern warfare into the nuclear era. We may be witness to the world’s first deployment of a ‘tactical’ nuclear weapon. This would most likely occur under the pretense of destroying alleged Iraqi underground nuclear/biowarfare facilities.
In other words, we may deploy our weapons of mass destruction in order to destroy their weapons of mass destruction. What could possibly be wrong with that? After all, everyone knows that they’re fucking crazy. And who would question the motives of such great Americans as Colin Powell directing and approving such an action?
Elsewhere on the foreign relations front, expect a new mission for our men and women in uniform. Lots of money needs to be funneled into the pockets of Bush, Cheney and Baker’s buddies in the ‘defense’ industry. The best way to do that, of course, is to find some place to dump our existing stockpiles of bombs and missiles.
It’s also necessary to repeatedly remind all those ‘rogue’ nations out there that we are serious about imposing U.S.-approved markets on every corner of the globe. Opposition to manipulation and exploitation by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization has been known to bring on a case of Sudden Aerial Bombardment Syndrome.
Another thing we can expect from the Bush team (and this one is, I think, my personal favorite) is a couple of reactionary Supreme Court appointments. You remember the Supreme Court, don’t you? That was the branch of government that appointed Little George to the presidency.
That is, you see, how a ‘democracy’ works. The Supreme Court appoints the President, and the President in turn appoints the Supreme Court. I think that’s what they call the ‘separation of powers,’ or the ‘system of checks and balances,’ or something like that. And while we’re on the subject of the high court, expect them to immediately resume issuing decisions supportive of ‘states’ rights,’ and to begin once again routinely turning away cases dealing with ‘equal protection.’
On the brighter side, one thing we shouldn’t expect from the Bush team is a repeal of abortion rights. Contrary to their carefully crafted images, the Bush family, and any number of other ‘conservatives’ in Washington, aren’t really opposed to the practice of abortion. They just pretend that they are to insure the support of the Abortion Clinic Bombers lobby.
The truth is that the majority of women seeking abortions are, and always have been, from the lower echelons of society. Minorities and women from the lower socio-economic classes are grossly over-represented. The rather harsh reality is that, from the point of view of Team Bush, the less ‘those people’ reproduce, the better off we’ll be.
The ‘conservative’ majority on the Supreme Court has had it within its power to revoke abortion rights for quite some time. It hasn’t chosen to do so yet, and isn’t likely to in the near future, even with an increased majority. The Court’s Justices have, if nothing else, proven themselves quite capable of disregarding their own precedents and abandoning their supposedly firmly-held Constitutional beliefs.
Presented here have been a few things to watch for in the Age of Bush. But what of that other guy, the one that lost (sort of)? What, in the final analysis, are we to say about Bush’s erstwhile opponent? What sort of epitaph are we to write for Al Gore?
This writer, along with the majority of the U.S. press, has not been kind to Al Gore. Some, like myself, have derided him as being virtually indistinguishable from Bush. Others have criticized him for squandering Clinton’s supposed legacy. Still others, rather bizarrely, have denounced him as being too ‘liberal.’
There seems to be a fairly wide consensus that Gore waged a rather lackluster campaign and a noticeably feeble post-election battle. It occurs to me though that, in a sense, perhaps we have been a bit too harsh in our criticism of Clinton’s second fiddle.
It appears, in hindsight, that Gore had a tough job to perform. He had to somehow manage to lose to George Bush, after all, without appearing to intentionally do so. And he had to do it while representing an administration widely viewed (though falsely) by the American people as bringing an unprecedented peacetime prosperity upon the nation.
That’s a pretty tall order for anyone to fill. The closest comparison I can think of would be for, say, Mike Tyson to take a dive in the ring against Pauly Shore, without appearing to intentionally throw the fight. Put in the same difficult position, do you really think you could have lost any better?