Time for Green Peace Friday, March 8, 2002
When George W. Bush stole into office, I reasoned that the appointment of a lousy president's worse son might scare the populace back to its senses and incite a shift to the left. I'd also like to believe those pills that promise weight loss while you live on donuts and beer really work.
The jury is out on the donut pills but I was right about Bush. A Dubyahoo backlash has reawakened many progressive urges -- but at what cost? After 13 months of soul-searing torment, I must admit that no country, or world, deserves this.
Some say I have no one to blame but myself because I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. But they are adopting the same flawed "with us or against us" policy with which Bush now threatens humanity.
Life and federal elections are a bit more complicated than that.
Once the 2000 Democratic field narrowed to Al Gore and Bill Bradley (D- Pfizer) I was already several steps out of the Donkey barn. When Gore strolled to the nomination, my despair hardened. The VP had always nettled my political sensibilities. It was a rare military appropriation or involvement he didn't support. His family was in deep with Occidental Petroleum, a major player in hostilities towards the indigenous people of Colombia - - hostilities that were being spun as a "War on Drugs."
As a candidate, Al Gore was one of the most naturally unlikable people ever. Phoniness oozed out of the guy. As a public speaker he could induce a coma faster than a metal dashboard in a head-on collision. In the skin-deep world of American politics, these were dangerous flaws. Bush's authentic stupidity gave him an advantage, at least with the sizable moron vote.
In 2000 I lived in Ohio, which had been labeled as a "battleground state." The battle didn't last long. Gore stopped campaigning among the Buckeyes well before Election Day. So I voted for Ralph.
Had there been even a slight chance my vote could have kept the smirking scion from the White House, I'd have held my nose and voted for Gore. If necessary, I'd have cut it off.
Back then some Greens said, "there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans." This was campaign rhetoric -- broadstroked political shorthand. It meant that the Democratic Leadership Committee/Brothel had compromised the former party of the people into an almost unrecognizable shambles. But most Naderites understood that the Democrats were the far lesser of two evils. We knew that Gore would appoint better judges and less insane cabinet members. We knew that Gore would at least maintain a casual relationship with the Bill of Rights.
Undoubtedly some people voted for Nader in close states because Gore ran such a horrible campaign. For instance, it probably would have been a good idea to run against George W. Bush rather than Ralph Nader. Had Al made that one adjustment, Joe Lieberman would be our Republican vice-president today.
If you isolate Nader's support in a few key states, you can pin what happened on the Greens but that gives the third party too much blame and/or credit. Gore fumbled away millions of votes without any help from Ralph.
Handled correctly, Nader could have contributed to a Gore victory. If Al had let Ralph and Pat Buchanan in the presidential debates, he'd have looked magnanimous. The natural division on many issues would have been Gore and the consumer advocate vs. Bush and the apologist for the Third Reich. Instead Al kept Ralph from the debates and it galvanized some voters for Nader.
Even worse was Gore's failure to assail Bush's constant promise to return ethics to Washington. Anyone who knew anything about the then-Texas governor, knew he was an ethical black hole. He talked of being an oilman but the only gushers he ever struck were in his parents' friends' pockets. Of course they weren't investing in oil but in an improved connection with Dub's daddy. They were also gambling that Poppy's seed could someday become a valuable governmental hood ornament for moneyed interests.
Then there was W's stewardship of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Bush invested $600,000 in the franchise, got the state to build it a new ballpark, sold the club and walked off with a profit of around $15 million. In effect, 15 million taxpayer dollars. Al Gore never mentioned this or any of a myriad of shady deals that entwined GWB's murky past.
Speaking of murk, what about Bush's obvious and prolonged substance abuse problems and spotty record of military service? Why didn't Gore call out Mr. Ethics on these issues? The high moral ground was there for the taking but Al demurred.
The Bush campaign tarred Gore with Clinton even though Clinton was still enormously popular. By distancing himself from the prez, Gore validated all claims of sleaze. Had he run with the well-liked president and let the Great Equivocator out on the campaign trail, Bubba would have gone toe to toe and low blow for low blow with Bush. In a political fight, the man has Joe Frazier's jaw, Joe Louis' right hand and Muhammad Ali's guile. Al Gore chose to employ Ali's rope-a-dope for the entire fight. Bush never punched himself out. Gore never took one swing at an ethically bereft glass jaw the size of Texas.
Al Gore was a bad candidate who ran a worse campaign. He still should have won. In fact, he did win but it was close enough for the slimebag Bushes to steal it. When it ended the Democrats were forced into a fallback position -- assign blame downward on Nader.
Since then both the Nader and Gore camps have kept up the hostilities toward one another. This has to end. We need all the firepower we can muster to fight a common enemy - George W. Bush. We can't do anything about Election 2000 except mitigate its damage by making sure this year's vote seriously mangles the Bush agenda. We must get together and bury the hatchet, directly into the Court-appointed Bush Administration.
Naderites raise your left hand and repeat after me "Of course we know that Republicans are worse than Democrats. Christ, Kaiser Ashcroft does more damage in an hour than Clinton and Gore did in eight years. We'll strive to bring a progressive agenda to the national arena but we'll try not to be too damned smug about it. We understand that we can't remove the 'W' from 'Washington' without the help of millions of well-intended Democrats."
And now you Gore supporters must say:" Gore's inept candidacy allowed the Bushes the opening they needed to steal the election. This frustrating eventuality provoked us to unjustly pin this horrible turn of events on Nader and his supporters. We promise in the future not to alienate progressives. Instead, we'll give them a fair hearing. We need progressives if we are to defeat Bush and his Axis of Weasels."
And then the really magnanimous Dems can add "And, oh yeah, Enron makes Nader and his supporters look pretty damned prescient."
But that's strictly optional.
The main thing is trying to get along - - to cobble together some sort of winning coalition.
For the past several weeks I've been consorting with Democrats and it isn't so bad. Most of these liaisons have taken place in sordid privacy but it's time I outed myself. My name is Barry and I consort with Democrats
- I do this mostly via the Internet -- the perfect location for sordid behavior.
I really like the way my new Dem pals attack Bush. Al Gore could learn a thing or two from these folks. Sites like
BartCop, Smirking Chimp, Buzzflash, The Dubya Report, The Daily Brew, Media Whores Online , Make them Accountable and Bush Watch shred Jr. with an efficiency of which Arthur Andersen can only dream.
My Demobuds and I agree that it's crucial to regain control of Congress from Republicans this fall. Bush's reactionary arrogance already cost him Jim Jeffords and the Senate. That body must hold. The House of Representatives must also fall from GOP hands.
I'd like nothing better than for the new House majority to require 10 or 12 Green congresspersons to put it over the top. But I'll take what I can get.
This won't happen if we waste our time forming circular firing squads. We must energize lefty progressives and rank and file Democrats to make sure that legislators who are concerned with the wellbeing of workers, women, minorities, children and the environment represent the majority of Americans.
GWB arrived in Washington as an unelected and severely compromised political entity. He responded by handing out positions of authority to a group of criminally reactionary yahoos. Judging by his extremist appointments, you'd have thought he'd moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with a mandate.
Then he took September 11 and turned it into an alibi for destroying everything from the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to the Bill of Rights. Now he's using it as an excuse for worldwide military adventurism, not to mention outer space. He's also employed the tragedy to rationalize the classified status of information that would expose a trail of sleaze that has beaten a broad and oily path across the Bush White House.
We must not allow this dangerous little man a vote of confidence this fall. We can't afford to learn what he would do in full possession of a post-911 Congress. It's imperative to clean up the oil spill on the slippery slope to fascism that is the Court-appointed Bush Administration.
Back in 2000, many rank and file Democrats expressed a very valid concern about what a Bush presidency would do to this country and this world. In recognition of the accuracy of their well-founded fears, I'll cut Democrats slack on a sliding scale until this crisis passes. I expect nothing less in return.
2002 Barry Crimmins