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Now What? 

Crank Call

Oh, frabjous day!" as Lewis Carroll wrote in one of the Alice books. It's all so wonderful you could scream, or do somersaults, or anything you want. Such as head a "mega-church" in Colorado Springs and have sleazy gay sex at the same time, and buy crystal meth and throw it down the toilet, if that's what makes you happy. At the moment, I don't care what your fetish is, just knowing that at last the people of these states knew what they were doing and threw the bums out.

I'm talking about last week's elections, of course. What else is anyone talking about? I still have no hope for the future, but, God, it was nice to see! We aren't brain-dead, after all, are we? Are we?

I hope not. Because, frankly, the only thing the Democratic "sweep to Congress" has proven so far is that we've got a long way to go to undo the damage the Bush administration has wrought in the last six years. And this column isn't titled "Crank Call" for nothing - I'm already tired of Nancy Pelosi and her gavel. Sure, it's nice to see a woman third in line to the throne, but Bush wasn't entirely wrong when he asked, in his last-minute stomp through the country, "What's their plan?"

The fact that Bush doesn't and never did have "a plan" beyond corporate fascism isn't, right now, the issue. The fact that this trust-funded weasel wouldn't know "a plan" if it burned a cigarette mark on his arm at a "Skull and Bones" initiation isn't, right now, the issue. Even the fact that Rumsfeld has finally been booted out in favor of a soulless CIA spook isn't, right now, the issue. The issue is: Where are we going, and how? Even Maureen Dowd of The New York Times is a bit concerned about this.

"This will be known as the year macho politics failed," says Dowd, who is known to have some issues about the difference between men and women, "mainly because it was macho politics by marshmallow men." In other words, it would have been OK if they weren't marshmallows. Maureen is the daughter of a New York cop, and Gloriosky! does she know about men: "Voters were sick of phony swaggering, blustering and bellicosity, absent competency and accountability. They were ready to trade in the deadbeat Daddy party for the sheltering Mommy party."

By "Mommy" Ms. Dowd means "Speaker-elect Pelosi," and, I suppose, the dreaded Hillary Clinton. But what would happen if there were an election where Mommy and Daddy didn't enter into it - where it was simply assumed that anyone of voting age was capable of making his or her own decisions?

In Vermont, of course, we all knew Rich Tarrant would lose - no conversation there. But did we really know what we were voting for? "Anything But Bush," I suppose, which is a good slogan, and which should be branded on the back of every car and truck that otherwise says "Support Our Troops!"

And now what? "Moderation?" "Bipartisanship?" "Consensus?" All those things the Bush administration has shown such an amazing capacity to observe! Are we supposed to believe "Mommy" can fix this? Why do I feel that I'm about to open a box of Lucky Charms - speaking of marshmallows - with those awful bits of "freeze-dried" junk sucking up space where the cereal ought to be? My brother, Robert Kurth, put it very well recently in a letter to The Poughkeepsie Journal:

Prepare yourselves for a torrent of news and opinion about a "new direction" in Iraq. Be prepared, too, for unvarnished accounts from our military that the level of violence there is much higher than we have been told heretofore . . . I pray that an honest and thorough assessment of the occupation of Iraq can improve the situation for American soldiers and Iraqis alike. I support a Congressional resolution that the United States disavows any intention of permanent military bases and of any claim to Iraqi oil.

But I refuse to accept that the only way forward must be balanced and bipartisan. This arrogant and incompetent administration has earned much more than just "a thumpin'" at the polls. They have earned subpoenas, prosecution and jail time. The sooner the better. Happy Holidays.

To this I can't add much, except to say that if you don't believe the Kurth brothers, you can consult the "national" pundits, who are already beginning to worry that Ding-Dong's "thumpin'" won't amount to a hill of beans so long as the idea of the "unitary executive" is allowed to stand; so long as the PATRIOT Act is in force; so long as this administration - or any administration - is allowed to wiretap and spy on Americans without warrant; so long as the president can determine, at his whim and will, who and what are "enemy combatants," and can have them arrested and imprisoned without right to counsel or, for that matter, any evidence that he or she has broken the law.

You can have all the "Mommys" you want, Maureen - all the "Madame Speakers" in the world - but if these and other outrages aren't removed, it won't make a spickin' lit of difference. That expression the Kurth brothers get from their father, a gen-yoo-ine Texan, now a converted Muslim, who can't go to his mosque in Fredericksburg, Virginia - gallant, gallant Virginia, which swang the Senate for the Democrats! - without knowing that he and his whole family are under the watch of the feds.

Prove us wrong, voters. Prove us wrong.

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Peter Kurth

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