Sunday, May 13, 2007

THE DEMOCRATIC WAY

Joe Conason has an article over on Salon (“Poor, poor Gonzales”, www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2007/05/11/gonzales_hearing/print.html).

He’s reporting on the mind-bashing dumbness with which House Republicans strewed Quaint Al’s path with consolation during The Quaintster’s recent hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee hearing (which ran an impressive six hours).

Several ancillary thoughts occurred to me. It is refreshing to observe democracy at work, seeing the stupidity (real or feigned) among the Republicans that can get itself elected to Congress. I’m glad that there is no ‘authority’ in this country with powers sufficiently plenary so as to ensure that only intelligent people can get sent to Congress.

Nor – in the decades of their vigorous pandering to the Identities – did the Democrats accomplish anything less than strike down long-standing firewalls of Truth and maturity and critical, skeptical intelligence; indeed, the Dems made it positively incorrect to kick certain favored tires. Seeking to dilute any intelligence that might criticize urgent favoritisms, the Dems opened the screen-door of Our civilization, through which gigantic stupidities of pre-historic proportions flew or waddled back in. Think: opening the gate in the forest wall not to King Kong but to a herd of omnivorous dinosaurs with brains the size of a walnut. Bad judgment. Bad juju.

And we wonder why nobody could “connect the dots” in re the tortured singleton Cho at Virginia Tech? Of course it was clear that he was seriously unwell and in great and emergent need of psychiatric help. But what administrator in this Year of Sensitivity the Thirty-Sixth (more or less; I’m counting from don’t-blame-the-victim in 1971) would dare risk job and career to a) ‘label’ b) an ethnic minority by c) ‘judging’ him to be d) seriously whacked out. Nor am I trying to smuggle in a nostalgic vote for uninformed, yahoo, macho, bulldog decisiveness (look where that has gotten us in Iraq).

But in the revolutionary arrogance and impatience to totally transform everything immediately, abetted by the Democrats’ and the media’s full panoplium of power and influence, a lot of key American content and process was swept away. To be labeled ‘insensitive’ was (up until the invention of the ‘sex offender’ two decades later) the most awful and lethal opprobrium that might be heaped on a bureaucratic head. Who wanted to risk his/her career to exercise discrimination and authority and act decisively to either make this tortured soul get help or get him off the campus? Suppose some other ‘professional’ further along the chain didn’t back you up and declared him ‘well enough’? Suppose the parents went and got a lawyer? Suppose some pol with a political need to look compassionate got involved on the kid’s side? Suppose – the horror! – a bunch of sensitive and pained students showed up under your office window with ribbons and bunches of flowers and news-cameras? Oy. Better to be ‘sensitive’ and keep your mouth shut.

As Conason notes, the Republicans at the hearing seemed utterly unable to grasp the lethality of the challenge that Gonzales and all that he stands for poses to The Republic, to the rule of Law, to fundamental democratic process, and to the role of The People in the American scheme of things. Or, if they did grasp it, their need to remain in the odour of sanctity within their Party reduced such concerns to irrelevance.

So it came to me: here is the way that the Democrats can make their way back up to the High Ground while simultaneously coming to efficacious grips with the most dangerous threat to The Republic that We now face. Let the Democrats stand four-square for democratic process. Forget, for the moment, the ‘content’ – in the past decades the desire for liberation has led to speech-codes and sex-offender registration and the love of liberty has led to pre-emptive, invasive war. Let Us start off gently and simply restore democratic process. And if the Democrats have the right stuff to stand tall, then let Us have the stuff to exercise Our authority to support them.

Now, this is not a put-down of Republicanism. It is a recoil from the monstrous Frankenstein of Rove-ian Republicanism – that stitched-together medley of dead things Neocon, Fundamentalist, and Jingoist. When the more mature Republicans can get ahold of their Party again, then – to borrow an image of Abe Lincoln’s – Our trip will be made smoother, having a pumpkin in each saddlebag. For now, We’ll have to go to the job with the Party We’ve got: the Democrats. If they’re up to it. Who stands for The Republic?

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