Monday, December 15, 2008

Shoes Are Not Enough!

Bravo to the brave Iraqi journalist who, by throwing his shoes at George Bush yesterday in Baghdad – at great personal cost – made the best possible use of cultural conventions to signify contempt! But contempt, even when backed by shoes, is not enough. Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and the rest of them must be brought to justice – Pelosiite/Obamaite pusillanimity and “bipartisanship” notwithstanding.

Unfortunately, with our institutions and our Democrats, there is really no way to call Bush and Company to account. Voting them out of office is hardly equal to the offence, especially since they were obliged to leave office anyway, and since voting them out meant voting in more decent and competent but essentially like-minded people led by an administration dedicated to “change”— in other words, to continuity by another name. Impeachment would have been a step in the right direction but, thanks to the Pelosiites in Congress, that was “off the table.” In response to that betrayal of Congress’ Constitutional responsibilities, the most those vaunted “progressives” in the Progressive Caucus and elsewhere were willing to do was offer grotesquely muted objections. But, even if they had had the courage and wits to put Bush and the others on trial before the Senate, and even if they had been successful in removing them from office, since we have no functional equivalent of a “no confidence” vote in the Home of the Brave, the convicted perpetrators of various “high crimes and misdemeanors” would still have gotten away with almost all their foul works and deeds.

This is, after all, the President who bankrupted the country, brought on the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and who is now intent on destroying the remnants of American industry – all the while transferring obscene amounts of wealth to the beneficiaries of our recently departed Gilded Age. This is the President who has done incalculable, perhaps even irreparable, environmental harm. This is the President who has done more than any of his predecessors since the days of the Alien and Sedition Act to undermine Constitutional protections for civil liberties. This is the President who has concocted a torture regime and done his best to undermine the rule of law at the international level. This is the President who has targeted and persecuted American citizens and permanent residents of the wrong ethnicities on the pretext of defending “the homeland.” Worst of all, this is the President who, by spreading murder and mayhem to Afghanistan and Iraq, has perpetrated incalculable harm in two on-going, lost wars (one of which Obama plans to intensify!).

For most of these and other stupendous harms, there is little anyone can do except throw shoes or their functional equivalent at the perpetrators. But the war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the peace are eminently actionable. The point now is to make it painfully clear to Obama and his minions that “making nice” to the miscreants for “pragmatic” reasons is not only pragmatically counter-productive, and a missed opportunity for a genuinely “educative” politics. They must be forced to act on the plain fact that not bringing Bush and Company to justice egregiously offends that ideal. In short, they must be made to understand that “moving on” is a recipe for more of the same, and there there is far too much of that already.

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