Consider four more years of Bush. One thousand-four-hundred-sixty-one days and nights marching in like an occupying army, trailing a sick cargo of simplistic patriotism, false pride, incoherent pronouncements, cruelty, mendacity, destruction….
Bush thinks he has a mandate, you can see it in his eyes. So get ready for new nuclear weapons, aerial bombardment, innocents killed in the name of the Lord, impassioned and united enemies, broken treaties that'll make the world less safe.
Get ready for crooked dealings in the name of energy, for bills that'll deface the environment and sweetheart deals for polluters. Get ready for Supreme Court appointees who'll roll back reforms and constitutional amendments that--for the first time in our history--will limit the rights of minorities. Get ready for national debt as far as the eye can see or else new taxes on the middle class and poor.
Get set for a continuing procession of heat waves, storms, droughts and more papered over with lies about the effects of global warming. Get ready for drilling in virgin wilderness, roads into forests that pre-date humankind's arrival in America. Get ready for mountaintop removal and destruction of our streams.
To cover such atrocities prepare yourself for language straight out of Orwell. For bills with names that mean the opposite of what they'll do. For the re-writing of history regarding 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, the Saudi connection, Valerie Plame, Halliburton. Get ready for more embedded reporters, for White House correspondents with cute nicknames, for journalists too compromised to ask embarrassing questions, for news anchors who take their cues from Fox or Rush Limbaugh.
Assuming they all stay on, get ready for more lies from Dick Cheney, more false optimism from Donald Rumsfeld, more double-talk from Condoleezza Rice, more compromises from Colin Powell, and God-knows-what from John Ashcroft and ideologues like Paul Wolfowitz.
Get ready for fuel shortages and economic upheaval and unprecedented borrowing.
In short, prepare ye the way for “four more years of hell,” as Teresa Heinz Kerry so aptly put it--for years punctuated by war, scandals and yellow alerts.
Sadly, I can back it all up, for I base such predictions on the naked record of four years now ending. Bush began those years without a majority and with high-toned promises to bring us together.
Was it all a dream? Four years ago, following the most dubious U.S. election in modern history, I wrote, “Once Bush lays his hand on the Bible and pledges to uphold and defend the Constitution, he will be my president. I'll wish him well because I wish our nation well.” And I wrote, “Fairness and good will compel me to wish him god-speed at the outset.”
I won't get fooled again. Even before 9/11 Bush signaled his refusal to sign treaties that might've made the world a better place, just as he began rolling back environmental safeguards and laying the groundwork for new weapons systems and tax breaks for rich friends.
After 9/11, Bush held the free world in the palm of his hand but he pushed proven friends and moderates away in an arrogant go-it-alone policy and then invaded a country that had never done us harm. More than 100,000 Iraqis have died, new studies show.
And now he thinks he has a mandate….
Someone described Nixon as “the darkness reaching out for the darkness,” and so it is with Bush. The prospect of four more years of that spiteful grin, that stuttering incoherence, that tendency to make grand and empty pronouncements and pander to our fears, dreams and patriotic impulses is almost too much to bear for thinking people, for reading people, for people who reach out for the light.
We might've had a president who likes to read, who windsurfs and bikes, speaks French and plays the guitar, one able to discuss philosophy and the lessons of history, one with the capacity to change his mind in changing times. Instead we have… four more years. It's a sad day in America.
In coming weeks I'll write noble sentiments for my fellow wanderers in the political wilderness. I'll have things to say about how we fought the good fight, for we did, and how we faced the truth squarely, for we did, and how we hoped for a better world. But for now leave me to tend my sorrow, for my heart is sorely wounded.
Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist for The Knoxville News-Sentinel, as well as a freelance journalist, short story writer and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. His many writing awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Michigan Journalism Fellowship, a Golden Presscard Award and the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize. He is finishing a novel, ORACLE OF THE ORCHID LOUNGE, set in his native Tennessee. His book of selected journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes, the Best Writings About People by Don Williams, is now available for ordering. For more information, you may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the NMW website at www.mach2.com.