At the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson writes about “The Meltdown We Can’t Even Enjoy.”
It’s frustrating. The three overlapping forces that have sent this country in so many wrong directions — the conservative movement, the neoconservative movement and the Republican Party — are warring among themselves, doing their best impression of crabs in a barrel, and sensible people can’t even enjoy the spectacle. That’s because it’s hard to take pleasure in the havoc they’ve caused and the disarray they will someday leave behind.
“Crabs in a barrel” — what perfect imagery! Can’t you just imagine all the righties, all the Bush culties and fundies and neocons and Big Gubmint-hating quasi-libertarians confined together within their shared lies and resentments? And as the reality of their failed ideologies closes in, see how they pull in their eyestalks and scramble for whatever crumbs of self-validation they can find?
Today the Right Blogosphere is swarming over the critical news that Borders Books refuses to stock a magazine that published the Danish Mohammed cartoons. Other recent blogswarms involved displays of the Mexican flag. For the past couple of days righties have labored mightily to assure themselves that the opinions offered by some retired FISA judges was the opposite of what the judges actually said it was. They’re still picking through the intelligence garbage dumped by John Negroponte. John Podhoretz of the National Review criticizes the just-released Jill Carroll for not being anti-Muslim enough. And for the past several days a number of them, led by John Fund, have been obsessed over a former Taliban member enrolled at Harvard.
Crumbs, I say. The same people who spent the past several years congratulating each other for their grand “ideas” are running (sideways) from big issues as fast as their scaly little legs can scramble. Robinson continues,
It would all be entertaining if the stakes weren’t so high. Iraqis and Americans are dying; the treasury is bleeding; real people, not statistics, are at the center of the immigration debate. Iran is intent on joining the nuclear club. Hallowed American traditions of privacy, fairness and due process are being flouted, and thus diminished.
Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a gloomier look at the Big Pcture —
Itâ€™s not merely that the Bush administration has run aground on its own illusions. The real problem runs deeper, much deeper, and at its core, I think, lies the fact that out of fear and laziness we insist on trying to address new problems with old ideologies, rhetoric and mind-sets.
To put it bluntly, we donâ€™t know what to do, and so we do nothing.
Run through the list: We have no real idea how to address global warming, the draining of jobs overseas, the influx of illegal immigrants, our growing indebtedness to foreign lenders, our addiction to petroleum, the rise of Islamic terror . . .
Those are very big problems, and if you listen to the debate in Congress and on the airwaves, you canâ€™t help but be struck by the smallness of the ideas proposed to address them. We have become timid and overly protective of a status quo that cannot be preserved and in fact must be altered significantly.
The Republicans, for example, continue to mouth a cure-all ideology of tax cuts, deregulation and a worship of all things corporate, an approach too archaic and romanticized to have any relevance in the modern world, as their five years in power have proved.
The GOPâ€™s sole claim to bold action â€” the decision to invade Iraq in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 â€” instead epitomizes the problem. The issue of Islamic terrorism is complex and difficult, and by reverting immediately to the brute force of another era, we made the problem worse.
Yet in recent years the Dems in Washington have offered little else but tweaks to the Republican agenda.
It’s not as if the big, bold ideas needed to address our real problems don’t exist. Sure, they exist — among people with no power to implement them. And thanks to the VRWC echo chamber, those people are painted as dangerous, radical, impractical loonies by just about everyone in both parties and in major news media. Eugene Robinson calls on the Dems to “put together an alternative program that will begin to undo some of the damage the conservative-neocon-GOP nexus has wrought.” But the party as it exists now hardly seems capable of such a challenge. It’s too compromised, too tired, too inbred.
What’s a progressive to do?
As a practical matter, the way Americans conduct elections makes third parties irrelevant. If we had run-off elections or a parliamentary system, I’d say abandon the Dems and form something new. But our system marginalizes third parties; there’s no way around that. Our only hope is to reform the Dems.
Meanwhile, conservatives are being challenged to choose between loyalty and principle. On the Blogosphere, loyalty seems to be winning out. And the righties scurry to hide inside fantasies that George W. Bush is a great leader, and the majority of the American people are still behind him. Snap snap snap.