Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Numb With Outrage: Am I All Out Of Hate?

In a recent piece peripherally covering the Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford claimed to have met then-Senator Nixon when Redford was a teenager and gotten "a bad vibe." (He was, of course, in the process of comparing Nixon to Bush) The late columnist Jack Anderson, who reached his influence zenith decades before Watergate, recalled pegging Nixon as "a bad man" when the latter was still a congressman.

It may just be a case of 20/20 cultural highsight, but it seems most people in the know hated Nixon long before Watergate, which took place nearly six years after he was elected president. Casting aside the fact that President Nixon enjoyed two landslide victories, I choose to believe that a good chunk of American smart people had to go around seething in anger for nearly six years before a "third rate burglary" finally woke up the rest of the country.

Of course, Nixon was an infinitely better president than Bush. (For starters, he merely inherited a bad war, he didn't start one, he appointed competent people to executive agencies, and he didn't order torture.) Even though I want to have some kinship with the boomer generation, they had nothing resembling the angst people who voted for Gore and Kerry feel today.

On a recent Daily Show, Sarah Vowell said it beautifully : "As I cried during Bush's first inaugural address, I thought the worst he would do is ruin the economy and muck up the drinking water." Those of us who were livid after the Florida recount have no way to process the horrors of the actual Bush presidency.

Perhaps it's a strategy like Hitler's big lie: paralyze your opponents with outrage before you even take office, and they will never regain their footing to challenge your further abuses. How can someone who believes Bush cheated his way into office enter a zone of discourse that allows them to effectively block his attempts to erode civil liberties, torture detainees and start ridiculously bad wars? Moreover, how can they convince those who think Bush was legitimately elected that their opposition to his policies is valid. The recount caused a marginalization of mainstream Democrats.

Yesterday, as I was recovering from last week's bar exaimination, I read most of a New Yorker article about defense department lawyer John Mora's futile four year quest to convince Rumsfeld to halt the torture of detainees at Gitmo and then in Iraq. I couldn't finish it. I just have no more anger left.

Whenever a new piece of horrendous news of the president crosses my conciousness, I am at a loss to put it in the proper context. There is no higher level of hatred than what I already feel. Before the 2004 elections, I could at least hope that the news would be widely circulated and convince a few. Now, I just don't want to deal with it.

I know there is still a midterm election left, and the Democrats could take control of the senate, but I can't let myself hope. The Republicans will just cheat again, using Diebold voting machines like they did in Ohio (another story the "liberal" media wouldn't touch).

Actually, I still do hope. Yesterday, as I was driving down 700 East in Salt Lake City Utah (the very reddest state), I saw a guy holding up a sign that said "impeach Bush." I don't know what his beef was, but I managed to honk and give him a thumbs-up. Maybe the rest of the country is coming around. It just takes six years to wake it up.