Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Hinge of History

I was driving through rural Connecticut with an elderly acquaintence today, a die-hard Republican who was bemoaning the free-falling stock-market -- and, predictably, blaming Obama.

"Every time that man oppens his mouth the stock market drops a hundred points," the duffer grumbled.

I don't argue politics with this gent -- he gets his news from Sean Hannity -- but it did occur to me to mention that Obama isn't responsible for the failing banks, the plunging stock markets, or the disintegratuing global economy.

He was elected to bring us the bad news and he's doing precisely that.Why he wanted the job will always be a mystery. But he seems to think he can help. I certainly hope he's right.

"How could this have happened?" the old man moaned quietly, reaching across to turn off the radio, with its endless stream of bad news and dire predictions. I could have told him that, too: a bunch of foolish, greedy monkeys with business degrees and houses in the Hamptons were given permission to loot this country into bankruptcy by an administration that systematically dismantled every rule, law, regulation and impediment that might have stopped them. Bush was elected to make his proprietors richer and it worked. That's the tragic irony of his "Mission Accomplished" banner. The most corrupt, amoral mission in American history; but neatly accomplished, and well done. No they don't need the money, but after the seventh zero money turns into power ... unless the srtructure your power is built on gets destroyed in the process.Then it's time to go back to Crawford, cut brush and watch the end of days on the flat screen TV, and all hail the King of the Termites.

But the old man's question stays with me: how did this happen? What was the pivot point that turned us down this catastrophic path? Ultimately, I have to blame Bill Clinton and his dalliances; and the carelessness with which he carried them out. Because if hadn't been impeached then Bush wouldn't have had that"Bring morality back to the White House" line to run on, and Gore would have had the full force of a successful adminstration surging behind him and despite the best efforts of a crooked political machine, he would have won the 2000 election. You can't steal an election unless it's close -- that's why we all knew Obama needed a landslide. Gore didn't actually lose, we know that now, after all the votes were finally counted ... but it wouldn't have taken much to seal a truly decisive victory. If he hadn't been tainted by the ignominy of a philandering president, sluiced with 'slick Willy' slime, he would have been our 42nd President. And stem cell research would have continued, and the war in Iraq would never have happened, the quarter of a million dead Iraqis would still be alive, along with thousands of American soldiers; we would still have a viable military and a functioning economy. The smug, strutting bandits that pilfered our financial markets with their "default swaps" and "securitized bonds" would have been stopped or prosecuted -- with the help of those Bush-rescinded laws that had kept the thieves in check since before World War Two.

A prosoperous world at peace ... versus the cratered, war-torn destitution we see all around us today. And what caused it all, the old man wants to know. Well, the answer isn't some unknowable force of history, or some dark conspiracy ... it's not huge and overwhelming. It' s tiny and sleazy and sad.

Look closely: it's a dried out speck of errrant DNA.

That's right: we were brought here by a spot of semen on a woman's dress. It seems impossible, it takes your breath away -- it gives you asthma, it literally closes the throat like a mold spores, this absurd, idiotic, appalling truth. How could such a tiny hinge open such a mighty door?

And how can we ever close it again? Nothing small will do the trick, we know that much. The penny on the track may derail the train; getting three dozen five-ton railroad cars out of the ditch may take more money and man-power than we can afford, more will than we can muster.

Something to think about on a winter afternoon: the awesome power of little things: the polio microbe that invades a cell, the drop of dioxin that contaminates the reservoir, the atom that splits to destroy a city.

But Monica Lewinsky's dress? I need my inhaler.

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