Happy days are here again, and they're about to get happier.
Once the investigations start--and they have to start, that's the mandate: oversight, answers, the reason we have a Congress, the reason we voted the way we did--the future is, in a sense, out of our hands. It doesn't really matter what anyone wants or says he wants now, or what anyone says will or should happen: one small step, which can't be avoided, will lead inexorably to the next, and then to another, then another, and another--and before long--we can't avoid it--we'll be having a big televised committee hearing, which is, after all, the most fun you can have in your living room--and then, not long after that, we'll come to the most profoundly satisfying, democracy-affirming, delirium-inducing results we can imagine.
The various Congressional committees will soon begin their mandated investigations. First, we'll have subpoenas, battles in the press, snarling and stalling. What fun! Imagine Cheney! Rumsfeld! all of them! Oh, how well we'll get to know these disdainful, secretive people who worked for us and abused our trust: Wolfowitz and Perle, Tenet and Bremer, Chertoff and Brown, Colin and Condi (what did they do? what did they know?), big oil execs, big pharmaceutical execs, Haliburton execs--all bobbing and weaving, defending themselves by attacking, all under the spotlight of justice. Here we go--Fifth Amendment pleas, lies, more lies, more subpoenas (memos, emails, diaries, secret tapes). Here we go: indictments (some for perjury), new gung-ho Liddys marching off to jail with maniacal fervor, new less gung-ho John Dean's choosing instead with more discretion in their valor to vomit all over the table (wasn't that Ehrlichman's happy phrase?), all this President's men behaving just as those other ones did in the good old days, defying, denying, squirming, cooperating, twisting in the wind, turning on each other, trying to keep a place in the too-crowded lifeboat on the choppy sea, eating each other up.
And new heroes arising. And one of them (who will it be?) asking, relentlessly, "What did the President know, and when did he know it?"
One step at a time: and then the surviving Republican leadership (Warner, Hagel, McCain, Graham?) will go to Cheney and say, Resign now. The Party, unlike the insurgency, is in its last throes: resign for the good of the Party, blame it on your heart, and if you do we will guarantee you a pardon. Otherwise, we won't. You'll know better than we do how much a pardon might come in handy.
And Cheney will resign.
And then they will go to Bush and say, Replace Cheney now with someone who can get along with the majority party, someone who is not a rancorous, partisan divider as Cheney and you yourself have been--an elder statesman, who won't try to jump in front of us in the 2008 election: James Baker, Warren Rudman, Alan Simpson. (Not Tom Kean. His obscene shilling for ABC/Disney has bumped him off the least. I wonder if he'll think it was worth it: he might have been President.)
And then the new Vice-President will be sworn in.
And meanwhile the different committees will be turning over so many stones, shining the people's light on so much interesting murk, watching as the surprised creatures, disturbed in their cozy slime, run for cover and find there is no cover, there is no more cover! And the committees will begin to learn some curious things, curiouser and curiouser. The one I'm most looking forward to and feel most confident about predicting is that the grossly illegal wiretaps for which the Decider said he didn't need authorization and now so frantically, desperately seeks it will actually include surveillance of the Kerry campaign. (Far-fetched? Do you really imagine that lazy, imperviously-privileged, arrogant Bush and his amoral macchiavel, the former genius Karl Rove, would be too smart or principled to do such a thing? They both believed that a "permanent majority" and a sleazy, constant manipulation of the attack on America had forever isolated Bush from outdated Constitutional checks and balances and the pesky indignity of any legislative or judicial oversight. Do you really think little-brain Bush would hesitate to do what big-brain Nixon did, when he had the same opportunity and temptation? Bush's pathology may be narcissistic denial, not paranoia, but surely he would have thought it as important as Nixon did to use every possible means to safeguard his own political power. He'd confused safeguarding his own power, after all, with saving the country. That's why he claimed authority the poor old Framers couldn't explicitly give him, because they couldn't even imagine the awesome responsibility--with the very survival of the nation depending on one man's ability to move quickly and decisively to do whatever he deemed necessary to protect the country from bloody, implacable enemies in an unfortunately permanent war. Of course such a Lord Protector has to keep track of what all the people on his Enemies' List are doing, and though Osama may be hard to spy on, Democrats aren't. It is beyond dispute that the President saw Democrats as his enemies, and the enemies of the country he wanted to protect: just the other day he was saying that if you voted for Democrats "the terrorists win, and America loses." Looked at from that Cromwellian, or Louis XIV, or Nixonian point-of-view, Bush actually had a responsibility to wiretap the Kerry campaign. Did he? We'll see.
And if he did--even my Republican ex-friends, snorting disdainfully, sputtering, obfuscating, trying to change the subject, wanting to lie again about John Kerry's perfectly clear and true remark about an ignorant man (Sunnis? Shiites? Who knew?) who has gotten the whole world stuck in Iraq--when they are finally forced to give their opinions about the possibility of Bush having wiretapped Kerry, these intelligent Republicans (never mind fair and balanced) admit that okay, sure, it's possible, and then go on to say that if Bush wiretapped the Democrats--that was the reason, after all, that Nixon's CREEPs broke into the Watergate--then he should be impeached, like Nixon; and sometimes they add angrily that he should also go to jail.
And if it isn't the wiretaps, it will be some curious lie in the Katrina debacle, or the torture initiative, or the stifling of administration scientist, or colluding in the magical pre-election fall of gas prices, or one of the hundred different high crimes and misdemeanors committed to fight a foolish, murderous war in Iraq, or all of the above.
And so the Impeachment Committee will form in the House.
And after a little time, as the articles proliferate, and an Imperial Executive firestorm or two fails to halt the collapse and subvert, again, the Constitution, and after the people get angrier and angrier, stimulated, as people are, by all the blood in the water, then those same beleaguered Republican leaders, thinking about 2008 and still daring to dream of a two-party system, will pay another visit to the Decider, and they'll say, now--here's one more thing you don't get to decide, now, sorry, we can't save you, resign now, for the good of the Party, and of the country, and so you can finally be the-uniter-not-the-divider you promised to be), resign now, if you think you might find a general pardon from President Rudman helpful down the road--and it looks like you may need one as general as possible. (What's that? No, sorry, we can't do anything about the War Crimes Trials in Germany. Just be careful about traveling abroad. You won't find that much of a hardship, will you?)
And then there will be a final smirking, faux-sincere, combative, jokey frat boy, incoherent, mispronounced, self-serving farewell speech before that one last jaunty strut--arms jutting out from the body to make a little man look bigger, cocky, smirking, maybe a brisk salute or two and some victory signs in among the hand wavings to the assembled White House staff. Another historical Republican perp walk--a perp strut, this time--across the White House lawn to the helicopter, blades already whirling, and then that last sad, humiliating Air Force One flight back to Texas, and a whole lot of leftover life in Crawford, hacking brush, with plenty of time to think about books--not about writing one, of course, but about how in the world you could possibly get enough of them together not to look silly when you dedicate your library.
What I am describing is a real slippery slope. Finally. But it's a little different from the ones the fear- and hate-mongers, the values hypocrites, the faux-religious, the moral bankrupts, the greedy and corrupt and contemptuous, the corporofascists and their stooges kept warning us about. Inexorable, unavoidable, one step at a time--and no escape, no turning back. No turning back for the Decider. No turning back for the dead weight, free-loading, ignorant hordes of non-voters. No turning back for the arrogant, cowardly, manipulating, bought-and-paid for national Democratic machine, however cozy and centrist those dishonored leaders want to be. No turning back for the American people. Democracy. Constitution. Accountability. Justice.
Happy days. No turning back for any of us, once we take the first step; and America just took it.