Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Most Dangerous Politicians in America

From time to time in the next two years, we will consider the candidates to succeed George W. Bush. This installment considers those on both sides of the aisle most likely to continue the neocon fantasy of endless war.

The midterm election looms and the prospects for 2008 are staking their grounds. On the left are Russ Feingold, Albert Gore, John Kerry and John Edward. In the center are Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman and Rudy Giuliani. On the right are Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and John McCain. The classifications are subject to change as the candidates seek a winning path through the unfolding political maze.

Though everything is in flux, some matters are resistant to change: For example, a candidate’s position on the war in Iraq and the greater war on terrorism. With that in mind, the following represents my current ranking of the most dangerous politicians in America (in reverse order):

6. Rudy Giuliani.

The hero of 9-11, America’s mayor, he marched bravely to ground zero, projecting confidence when our president was still bunkered down. He stood strong and urged New York’s finest to stand with him. Did he ever really say (“spontaneously like”), “Thank God George Bush is president!”? No one knows. Only later did we learn that Rudy was somewhat culpable for the tragic events of that September morn. It was his decision to place his command and control center in the towers – a known terrorist target. Rudy also contracted incompatible communications systems so that New York’s finest could not talk to each other in a catastrophic emergency.

What would Rudy do as president? Exactly what his advisers told him to do. Rudy knows how to play the game.

5. Dick Cheney.

He is the only certified neocon elected to office and the elevator in the White House runs straight from Cheney’s bunker to the Oval Office.

Could a man with a crooked grin, who looks like a cartoon personification of evil, ever become president of the United States? Yes. At this juncture, it would be difficult for Cheney to be elected dogcatcher in Orange County but there are other ways to ascend to power. If the Democrats get ahead of themselves and impeach the president before the vice president is safely shunted aside, Dick Cheney would not hesitate to fire a barrage of tactical nukes at our enemies. Nuke them all: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Spain!

If his heart holds out, Cheney would make a nice running mate for a new war president. He could keep the bunker.

4. Condoleezza Rice.

Is it even conceivable that the woman who failed to foresee the possibility of 9-11 despite a mountain of evidence, the woman who warned of a mushroom cloud from the evil Saddam, the woman who seconded every lie and deception the president ever delivered, could overcome all that baggage to become Commander-in-Chief? Ironically, the only thing that holds her back is her race and sex in a party that depends on the white southern fundamentalist vote. Despite the odds, if anointed, she would likely bring the Bush Doctrine to its illogical conclusion: a bankrupt nation and a collapsed empire.

3. Joe Lieberman.

He would rank higher if there were anything more than a whisper of a chance that this whining, rightwing Republican in a Democratic suit could win the White House. Then again, what were the odds that the most outspoken Democrat to impeach a Democratic president for a blowjob would become the party’s vice presidential candidate? No, Joe, we really don’t care what your record on civil rights is. What about civil liberties? On foreign policy, you’re as right and wrong as they come. One gets the impression that old Joe is suffering from macho envy squared. Nuking Iran would be such sweet sorrow if only Israel would nuke Syria first.

2. Hillary Clinton.

Hillary was for the war before it was popular to be for the war. Why not? Husband Bill set it all up for little George to knock down. It was Clinton who set the policy of regime change in Iraq. It was Clinton who first implemented the low casualty war plan, bombing from 15,000 feet in Bosnia even though it meant a lot of dead civilians, bombed media organizations and an occasional Chinese embassy. It was Clinton who kept the pressure on Iraq with deadly and criminal sanctions [1], periodic bombing and a cat-and-mouse game of weapons inspections. “Wag the dog” was a Clinton specialty. Everything that Clinton did was a logical extension of what the elder Bush did and a logical precursor to what followed. It would only be right to let Hillary finish the job.

1. John McCain.

The man never saw a war he did not like. Never. He wants to be king so bad he will swim through the muck for as long as required if he believes it will enhance his chances. He portrays himself a straight-shooting Joe with simple, unassailable values yet he bows on command to the most extreme leaders of the religious right. He will alter his positions on right to life and decry homosexuals as mortal sinners. He will begin and end every speech with “praise the lord” if he thinks it will win the Republican nomination. When and if he wins the White House, toss out all the pandering on social issues: It’s all about war.

I have a vision of McCain riding the nuke into the great beyond like Peter Sellers in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

The US military has engaged in four major wars and dozens of military interventions since the end of World War II and the only criticism John McCain has ever uttered is that we did not go far enough. In Vietnam, we should have killed a million more “gooks” – only McCain is allowed to use racial slurs in deference to his prisoner-of-war status.

If McCain were president today, we would already be at war with five nations and the ultimate showdown would be rapidly approaching. Radiation would fill the air and military conscription would fill the ranks.

Manna from heaven for the fundamentalist doomsayers but pure hell for the rest of us.

[1] Recall former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s infamous reply to a question concerning half a million dead Iraqi children: “We think the price is worth it.”