Thursday, October 06, 2005

Weather Report

While driving in this morning, I heard about how the Senate voted last night in favor of the McCain amendment that would prohibit the use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” against anyone in United States custody.

Adding it to a $440 billion military spending bill, the Republican-controlled senate voted 90 to 9 in favor of the bill, which Bush has threatened to veto. Even Colin Powell contributed a letter in favor of it.

The other side, which is dwindling daily, continues to argue that there is no systematic abuse of prisoners.

Ordinarily, the sight of so many of the President’s men jumping ship on something like this would be something to celebrate. And, of course, for anyone who believes there is a chance of gathering together and repairing the tattered remnants of America’s reputation around the world, there is good reason to be optimistic.

But I don’t believe for a moment that this is a case of politicians suddenly coming to their senses. These folks don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows and what you have here, more or less, is a weather report.

This is the most graphic sign yet that the Bush/Cheney party is over.

With the administration slowly beginning to sink back into the cesspool from whence it sprang, weighted down by indictments and increasingly poor poll numbers, even Republicans have gotten the message that it’s no longer politically advantageous to back this hideous gang of thugs and liars.

When even nutcases like Ann Coulter start to write things about Bush like “He was elected to represent the American people, not to be dictator for eight years,” you know the rats are starting to sniff around for the nearest portholes to exit from.

The nomination of Harriet Miers (which the Coulter quote was reacting to) has especially managed to stick in the craw of conservatives who not only wanted Bush to fight harder for a more obviously ideological choice, but who can’t believe that he would make such a choice on the heels of the Michael Brown debacle.

I watched some of that Rose Garden press conference in which Bush defended his choice to the press. You'd think after all these years I'd be used to the way Bush stumbles and fumbles his way through a sentence, as if his brain were gasping for air. But I still sit transfixed, amazed that anyone could find him appropriate for any kind of elected office, let alone the Presidency.

Yet there he was, once again treating the English language like some sort of Keystone Kops slapstick chase, saying that Miers's qualifications included the fact that that she was "highly intelligent" and trying hard to turn his personal relationship with her into a plus by proclaiming that this closeness meant that he knew her "strength of character" and "what also matters is the intangibles."

Last night on David Letterman, they ran a fake public service spot about Bush’s exhaustive search for a Supreme Court nominee that concluded “Harriet Miers: The most qualified candidate within 50 feet of the Oval Office!”

Indeed, the only thing you really need to know about Ms. Miers is that she supposedly once referred to Bush as the smartest man she ever met.

It’s easy to sit back for a moment and enjoy the spectacle of all these Conservatives doing Eddie Murphy’s blind beggar routine from Trading Places: “I can see! I can see! Praise Jesus!”

But I don’t think any hearts or minds are really being changed here. I am encouraged that a notion of what America should stand for still manages to survive in some deep, dark crevice of the human heart. It took a former P.O.W., John McCain, to press for this amendment against the obvious distaste of someone whose experience of actual warfare is limited to finding the zipper on a flight suit.

And, who knows, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this madness has finally begun to pass, like a fever, and the better angels of our nature have begun to reassert themselves.



Post a Comment

<< Home