03/02/2006 03:58 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Don't Be Mean

I can't believe I'm saying this. I've been full of rage for so long against these corrupt, incompetent, deceitful, arrogant, cruel, and almost unimaginably destructive leaders, and against the hateful, dimwitted people who voted for them, but now I think we should all come together again, forgiving (though not forgetting). We're all in the same boat, now--a big container ship heading for a great American port--and now everybody knows! James Buchanan is off the hook. George W. Bush is the worst president this country has ever had, by the sort of landslide he thinks put him in the White House. (We elected him twice--"Fool me once...," etc.--and we did it just when our nation needed the best president it had ever had.)

Our losses, domestic and planetary, may be irrecoverable.

One reason I was so angry is that I'd lost all hope and couldn't imagine ever having it again.

Shaw said, "We must eliminate the Yahoo, or his vote will wreck the commonweatlh." Right, eliminate him by educating him. And we didn't. Too late! (Remember how shocking it was when Kerry had to hide that he spoke French and German. Yahoos aren't smart, and they don't like smart.) I thought the smooth Rovian machinery of Big Lie--lies they thought perfectly permissible since God wanted them to win--combined with the sly manipulation of Yahoo/ fundamentalist stupidity (well, who would you rather have a beer with?) meant that the Grand Old Party of minority self-interest and rapacious greed would never lose another election, whatever vote count they actually achieved.

Didn't many of you think that? Did you think about moving to Canada. Did you think it might have been better if we had allowed the South to secede? Or not fought the Revolutionary War, and just muddled along as a more-or-less liberal part of the British Commonwealth, without a national contempt for education and intelligence, instead of being such hapless, forlorn misfits in this dangerous, illiberal, free, ignorant democracy, which the citizenry can no longer muster sufficient judgment or vigilance to preserve. I was in a bad way, but we all were, weren't we? The country was.

I feel hope again--because even the Yahoos have seen their Emperor in his startling natural state. They've all become aware of the colossal lying, hypocrisy, greed, corruption, and treachery of the men they voted for and the circle of powerful men and women around them. Such universal clarity seemed impossible, but who could ever have imagined that the President and his friends would be so dazzlingly, monstrously incompetent, across the board. President anti-Midas: everything he touches turns to dross.

And everyone can see because the disgraced press is finally reporting the story. Well, of course--because it's their favorite story: blood in the water. Never mind your agenda, forget about fairness and balance, about how many times you betrayed your profession by genuflecting to power, by rolling over for the odd bone--that's blood, isn't it? What fun! Irrestible! Breaking news! This just in! Blood in the water!

Suddenly, he has no political sense. He's arrogant, contemptuous, out of touch. (He threatened Trent Lott, the little whippersnapper!) Suddenly, he's a failure. He has a nasty smirk. He puts business deals and tax cuts for the super rich over everything, even national security. Suddenly, he only likes rich people, not people like us. Suddenly? (Say it ain't so, Mr. Woodward!) Blood in the water.

Blood won't go back in, either. Every week, every day now, there is more. And here come the sharks with their cameras and microphones, with their opinions and advice, with their glee and their appetites, sharks from the left, sharks from the right, and all the Yahoos, too, crowding toward the rail--they do like a good blood sport every now and thenrather it was John Kerry, but hell...

There is higher ground. We don't have to be mean any more. We can afford to be--we need to be--magnanimous. This country has to find a way to begin again. We have to move forward, keeping to a few basic principles (no corruption, no lying, full disclosure, spirited debate, checks and balances, respecting each other and the rest of the world, sacrificing for the national good, taking care of each other), as we try to undo as much of the damage as we can--damage to the planet, the climate, the Middle East, our allies, our troops, our reputation, our economy, and to our own poor, elderly, children, students, ordinary American families, to our brothers and sisters, to the United States of America.

The President's flagrant, haughty, unconscionable lying about Katrina, now exposed by videotape, has finished him. Hasn[t it? So we can afford to be magnanimous. Don't rub it in. Forego the supreme satisfaction of telling them we told them so. We need them to join us to help make this country a better country, a more secure country; we need them to help us save it.

It's time for the Republican leaders to act--to save themselves, their party, and the country (not necessarily in that order). They must decide on a successor for the diabolical, pathologically secretive, arrogant, poisonously unpopular Vice President, and then persuade him (for the good of the party, the country, rich white men, whatever) to resign. (If absolutely necessary, promise him a blanket pardon.) He can slither back to Halliburton like the conquering hero he is (for them), or he go back down to Rancho Mysterious and shoot tame quail to his heart's content, but the embittered Republican poobahs know better than we do that go he must.

Who should replace him? A moderate, reasonable, calm, thoughtful, bipartisan Republican. An anti-corruption Republican. A decent, honest man or woman. Someone who can unite us, not divide us...

So many names spring to mind...t

Ironically, John McCain has probably spoiled his chances to be the leader America needs by whoring so desperately after the prize already. Anyway, I'm sure the Republicans can find somebody in their ranks. Somebody who loves America, and will finish out Bush's term as a patriotic caretaker and protector of the nation. (Who knows, she may even resurrect the Republican Party while she's saving the country. I'll risk it.)

And then, sometime after the new, moderate, unifying, appointed Vice-President is sworn in, poor lying, scrambled, lazy, inexperienced, grotesquely over-matched George W. Bush (shades of poor Warren Harding) can quietly resign. And let's not light bonfires that happy night, let's not set off firecrackers and ring the bells and act like we've been liberated after a long occupation (even if we have). Let's not be mean.

What if he doesn't resign? We still don't have to be mean. We can all get together and impeach him, can't we? Gently, sadly: "We just have to have a good leader now, Mr. President, we really do. Sorry." And who of all the vast constituency he has so variously betrayed will further imperil the nation in these dangerous times by fighting to keep him?

And then, mercy...perhaps even forgiveness. This is not at all like my long dream of accountability and justice, but we really do need to move forward together, left and right, to reverse and remedy.

Forgiveness. And perhaps we can hope that he too will be stronger, will have become a better man; that he will have come to understand something about the real lives, the hopes and dreams and fears, of ordinary men and women; that he will be able to feel compassion; that he will recognize the importance of generosity and forgiveness in such a hard world. Let him go on with his life. Let him be baseball commissioner, why not, that's something he could do and would probably enjoy doing. And when that happens, when he has replaced Bud Selig (oh, all right, let's forgive Selig, too, while we're at it), when he has learned to see the world with new eyes, let him take anothre look at the tarnished record of Pete Rose, and let him reconsider. On reflection, Rose's high crimes and misdemeanors may not seem quite so bad.