We are mad as hell and Bernie Madoff has become the receptacle for our national rage. Mention his name and you are speaking about the man all America loves to hate. At present he is the dark star of cable news. Add the bonuses at AIG and other bailouts to tone deaf CEO's and the hissing begins. Such is the nature of displaced anger among a frightened people.
For eight years this government has been run by W and Co., the greatest group of Ponzi schemers to appear in our time, perhaps in all American history. They took us from a robust albeit flawed prosperity under Clinton with high employment figures to the disaster we currently face. The Bush 43 legacy of unregulated greed and mismanagement has been dumped upon President Obama, and thus, on to all of us. I won't rehash the lies, the corruption, and the cruelty of the misbegotten Iraq war that happened on the Republican watch -- the alleged result of 9/11 -- a catastrophe that occurred because the President and Ms. Rice, his National Security advisor failed to pay attention to the reports of what was happening. The Iraq war they chose is a disaster, no matter what its outcome, costing nearly a million Iraqi dead and the lives of four thousand American men and women, and trillions of dollars. And the number grows. Yet throughout that time there was little protest among the citizens of this country as they trusted the criminal lies told to them by Bush about the war much as Madoff's clients trusted his financial shenanigans, both groups knowing better, suspecting the reports as too good to be true but wanting so much to believe in a benevolent authority watching out for us.
Along came Madoff these past weeks to rescue Bush's economy from the true outrage and possible punishment that Bush and his fellows committed in those eight years. The rage is all on Bernie. Bush is ignored while Madoff is a prisoner of the state. But there are wonderful similarities. Both now live in guarded, gated communities; Bush in Dallas, surrounded by Secret Service men to keep him safe within his once restricted manse; Madoff protected by prison guards and federal agents to keep him safe -- at least until the puzzle of where the money is hidden is solved, if ever. It's a small comfort but neither man will have the freedom to rehabilitate their images in the years ahead. Bush will find his post presidential life circumscribed by the slow and painful unraveling of his lies told to the world. I don't see much travel ahead for the ex-President who draws hurling shoes like flies to honey and someday, one hopes, draws the judgment of the World Court, if only in damning words. Unlike the despicable Bernie Madoff, George W. Bush has not had the decency to admit to the wrongs he has brought down on his country. Madoff must be doing his mea culpa in the hope of a softer sentence, but he's spoken the words: I did wrong and I am ashamed. Bush merely fiddles away at building his presidential library as America burns, hoping that America will never notice that he has been the presiding figure in the sub-prime mortgage scandal, the sleeping Nanny of the stock market, and the one responsible for the accrual of overwhelming national debt. Sorry folks, Madoff is the wrong poster boy for horrendous greed and abuse of trust.
What brings out the smoldering Mt. St. Helena in me are the Mitch McConnells, the John Thunes, the Rush Limbaughs, the Norm Colemans, and the new Republican jeering section who supported Bush in bringing down the economy of the country, and now demand a say in how we can restore it. One hopes that Obama will turn a deaf ear to their carping voices. My fear is that these voices may speak for caution at a time when even greater boldness is necessary to rescue us from their disaster. What they propose is doing next to nothing to reform our battered and abused financial system from which they and their friends have been the long time beneficiaries. Shameless. But if the first casualty of the war that Bush and his party waged against the American people is truth; the second casualty is shame.