09/23/2006 02:29 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Little Question

So here we are, the weekend after Congress gave Bush his torture card. (Am I wrong in this? OK, Bush agreed not to rewrite article 3 of the Geneva Convention. But he gets to lock up any foreigner he wants and throw away the key--no habeas corpus. Am I right in this? And torture anyone of his choosing, up to a point of his choosing; something like that?)

And not a peep from the Democrats. Nice to see Bill Clinton hammer back at Fox today--but how about addressing something else beside essentially defending his good name against smears? Not a peep, Bill, about preserving, you know, our democratic insititutions? And for want of a better word, the good soul of this country?

You know, there's a lot of kerfuffle (is that the word?) about whether the term "fascism" applies to what's happening to America. And I don't want to add my little bit to the kerfuffle by discussing the term's appropriateness here. (Although I'll note this recent HuffPost from a political science professor at Pomona College in Los Angeles:

"Academic political theorists are my primary professional colleagues, forming my main associational network outside of my Huffposting, teaching, book writing, soccer daddying, and a few other activities. In that circle of political theorists, prominent voices (assertively, matter-of-factly, no longer whispering, with a studiousness devoid of shrillness) are starting to call George W. Bush a tyrant.")

But I do want to ask a little facism-related question, based on the peeplessness of the Democrats. And based on a couple mainstream-media reviews I've recently read: one in tomorrow's NY Times Book Review, where the reviewer of two incisive critiques of Bush faults them for being too extreme--and lacking a sense of humor (!). And the review in Publisher's Weekly of Frank Rich's dissection of Bush's propaganda machine, The Greatest Story Ever Sold, where again the reviewer faults the critique for being too extreme--for suggesting that the Iraq war was in large part a ploy to gain domestic political advantage. For suggesting any dog was being wagged. (What, gambling, here in Casablanca??)

I look at all this, and here is my question: Forget about whether the Bush administration is "fascist."

But for argument's sake, were fascism ever to exist in America, would the press and the political parties that we have today be able to recognize it? And prevent or resist it?

My answer is, I wouldn't bet on it.

I have a friend, a movie director who's a sweet and brainy guy (he makes comedies). His theory is that nothing will dislodge the Republicans from power short of an absolute social catastrophe in America due to their policies. Like, say, the Depression. But I wonder, in the media age we live in, will even that do the trick?

Anyway. Happy New Year, as some folks would say. My Russian girlfriend's mom made a Jewish feast last night. I teased her that it's all German cuisine really, what she served. Bavarian, in fact--in fact the sort of food our man the Pope ate as a young lad. (I joke.) But it's a small world, when you come to think about it, isn't it? Let's drink up and enjoy it while it lasts.