Twilight of the NeoconsWilliam Safire wrote a column this morning in The New York Times celebrating President Bush's Second-Inaugural Address. As a rhetorical vehicle, Mr. Safire ranked it as among the top 5 of the 20 Second-Inaugurals in American history.
The URL for Mr. Safire's original column is: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/21/opinion/21safire.html.
My reaction to the tone and subject matter of President Bush's address was a bit more acerbic.
Dear Mr. Safire,
Dubya can talk about freedom all he wants. It's about all he's good at. But when push comes to shove, like virtually all of these Neocons, we know that his embarrassing biography cannot measure up to his martial rhetoric – and that he's among the most fundamentally incompetent Presidents in the nation's history.
Dubya can talk about opposing tyranny from now until January 2009. But having stranded 150,000 American troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future (while American forces remain heavily committed in Korea, the Balkans, and elsewhere around the world), there's precious little he can do about it during his 2nd term. And if he attempts to reinstitute a draft to feed his liberation fantasies, even this Republican Congress might be persuaded to draw up the Articles of Impeachment against him. I mean, political gay bashing, and loathsome, nationalistic rhetoric that would have made Herman Goering chuckle, is bad enough. But drafting American boys and girls to fight in exactly the kind of war that Dubya himself refused to take up arms in would cross the line for more than a few Republicans. Americans may be falling farther and farther behind educationally, but they haven't so completely lost their minds that they would put up with a draft.
Now, if I were Dubya, I'd be spending all of my time repairing the huge gap that I created in the Federal budget – the gap that voodoo economics is again not generating sufficient revenue to close.
I'd be worried about the trade deficit, and the continued outsourcing of high-tech and back office jobs at the precise moment when Americans are carrying record amounts of personal and mortgage debt.
I'd be wondering what would happen if outsourcing, corporate downsizing, and an increasing downward pressure on wages, compelled greater and greater numbers of low and middle income Americans to dramatically curtail spending – or worse yet, choose that staple of Dubya's business playbook, Bankruptcy Court.
I'd be worried about how Americans will respond to the inevitable devaluation of the dollar, and the impact of ever-rising oil prices.
And I'd not be looking to push my privatization scheme for Social Security, not at this point in the economic cycle, with the DJIA and property values likely at unsustainable levels. This is clearly not the time for the Government to take on additional debt – and it is absolutely not a time to ask low and middle income Americans to entrust their future to the vagaries of bubble economics. For instance, if you bought positions in the market in 1929, it took you approximately 20 years to get your money back – assuming that you could even afford to hold a position that long. The twenties were another age of bubble economics. Hence, it was exactly the kind of Wall Street meltdown that we likely face that led to the establishment of Social Security. But, astonishingly, Bush now wants to link this safety net to the NASDAQ? Why doesn't he just offer to pay out Social Security benefits in shares of Enron?
In closing, it is singularly uncomfortable to observe a group of your countrymen so completely out of touch with reality – and especially so, when they happen to completely control the reins of the nation for at least the next two years. But, like a drunk or cocaine addict who needs to hit absolute rock bottom before coming to their senses (an experience that Dubya is clearly no stranger to – if only he found AA or NA instead of The Bible), perhaps these Neocons need to confront the inevitable outcome of their dubious policies. One would think that the results of their Iraq invasion would have been testimony enough. Alas, no. I fear this nation, originally founded by level-headed, sensible, healthily skeptical men, will instead be compelled to accompany these Neocons on their downwards spiral towards personal, political, and spiritual ruin. May Providence bring their bottom sooner rather than later; and amidst these ruins, may It grant us the us the ability to humbly rebuild, and return to that sacred journey that should have always been our primary focus, and for over two centuries has stood as liberty's brightest beacon to humanity – "a more perfect union.”
Matthew Carnicelli © 2005. All rights reserved.
Originally published January 21, 2005; revised January 22, 2005.