The Surly Bartender voted for Barack Hussein Obama and wishes him well, but he’s not much accustomed to running his engines on hope. Rage. Bitterness. Righteous indignation. Beer. Any of these elixirs give his 12 cylinder spleen the fuel it craves and he turns over like a raging Lamborghini, but hope tends to gum up the works. I expect the same to be true for many of you because of the recent “hope drought” known as the Bush years. Actually, our collective political soul hasn’t had much hope to run on in decades. Cheney and W. worked in the currency of blind allegiance and fear. The Clinton Administration ran its jets on avarice, convenience and the occasional furtive blow-job when the wife was in the other room. Bush 41 before that? Reagan? Come on. Give Sr. Surly a break.
But now, I’m hearing that hope is the energy of the day and the Surly Bartender will try his best to be more “flex-fueled” in the future. Who knows, maybe it will be worth it. In many ways, President Obama’s administration seems to be breaking from the sad traditions of the past. However, there’s still a real chance that either, a) the new President won’t be able to alter the fundamentally unhopeful dynamic of D.C., or b) Obama is as much of an operator as the rest of them and all this “hope crap” is just the stale air inside a carnival house of horrors filled with equivocating smoke and distorting mirrors.
But the Surly Bartender is trying, even though it’s difficult to maintain a hopeful heart while presiding over dunderheaded arguments and pitching drinks at Café No Sé.
Since the election, the new administration has been wrestling with several Giant, Three-Headed, Foam-Suited, Japanese Sci-Fi Dinosaurs from the Monster Island of Radioactive Illegality left behind by the Bushmen, and I’m just not sure that Barack and the Obamatons are up to the challenge of righting the right wrongs. This new president is, arguably, a different kind of Democrat – but, sadly, he is still a Democrat. And, as recent history has proven all too often, Democrats are pussies. To push the metaphor one step further, Democrats are like the terrorized civilians of Tokyo running and screaming every time the Republican Rodan screeches across the sky.
This will not do.
The Surly Bartender, along with many others, understands at the bottom of his heart, that in order to move forward, we need to cast a collective backwards glare and confront at least a part of the nearly inconceivable wrongs done in our collective name. You know the litany: politicizing the justice department, illegally tapping citizens, launching a war on trumped “intelligence,” torturing an untold number of “enemy combatants,” unilaterally abrogating the Geneva Conventions. Generally being dicks.
The conversation that specifically raised the Surly Bartender’s ire revolved around President Obama’s declaration that, when it comes to the question of pursuing legal remedies against the patent illegalities of his predecessor’s administration, he prefers to “look forward” with the resolve to “not make the same mistakes again.”
That’s laudable, in an awkwardly innocent way.
Clearly, as we face economic Armageddon, there is some limited wisdom in letting bygones be bygones, at least until after the 2010 mid-term elections. But once you move a half a pace past the laudability, gather some perspective and remember that we are only a temporary link in the chain of the ever swinging pendulum, it becomes clear that someone must be held accountable for the crimes of the past decade. As the Obama administration takes over, and attempts to “avoid the same mistakes” in the future, they cannot but choose to do battle with at least one of the monsters that linger in the halls of power. They must look at least one of the beasts in its great, dark eye and confront the blackness found there.
The pussy reasoning, such as it is, that we must “look forward” assumes it is better to walk away from a partisan fight for fear of political backlash in the future; but to walk away now is to accept the political forelash in the present. While the Democrats are generally pussies, the Republicans have long been bullies – and they have run the United States, and the world, for years with their own version of state-sanctioned terror. And, as disheartening as it may be to consider at this point in history, the bullies will return. The Cheney Coven that ruled so imperiously for the past eight years gestated in the belly of the Nixon and Ford administrations. Back in the quickening days of the Reagan administration they worked their dark magic to the tune of several hundred thousand bodies in the boneyards of Latin America, and if one has the stomach to look (and the desire to ruin a vacation to the Highlands of Guatemala) one could visit the mass graves and witness the exhumations.
The Republican bullies were exiled during the Clinton years – and they took that time to hone their martial arts and dip their spears anew in the potent curare of neo-conservatism while plotting a return to power. Which they won only two elections later. Now, they once again find themselves in the political wilderness, hoping in the id-darkened recesses of their brains for a terrorist attack on the “homeland” which would, in their minds, vindicate their past vindictiveness. The Neo-Cons may well receive such a poisoned gift. If they do, the beast will be back far sooner than we think.
While hoping that such tragedies never befall the world, all progressives and thoughtful folk must demand that the bullies receive a thorough ass-kicking by the forces of justice, lest they be tempted, once again, to grab with impunity the levers of world power. Democrats, now in control of The United States, must realize that their adversaries will not respond humbly to an electoral loss. They have weathered this before. They will return. And Obama must now make clear that a prison cell awaits anyone who violates the law of the land regardless of their power and influence.