2005: The End Of The Coma
Lost in the shuffle of Hurricane Katrina — the lunacy of “nobody anticipated the breach of the levees,” of “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job,” of everything else — was what, for me, is the true point-of-no-return for the Bush administration.
Anybody here remember Terri Schiavo? Oh, now you do. You remember how the Congress — after years of legal wrangling, leading to the repeated conclusion that the poor woman should rest in peace — overrode every precedent in order to strike a pro-life blow. You remember how Bush interrupted his vacation to race back to Washington to sign the bill. It was here when I began to sense a real change afoot — when average people (absent crazy libs) began to allow themselves to believe that George W. Bush and his pals really were not playing with a regulation deck.
There were other warning signs. Just before the start of 2005, there was Rumsfeld suggesting that one does not go to war with the army one would wish for. And then: trying to privatize Social Security — an idea which was nuts then, and absolutely insane in retrospect. And then: ramming John Bolton down a large number of throats. And then: two horrendous picks for the Supreme Court — Harriet Myers (spiked) and Samuel Alito (not) — along with John Roberts (about whom I am strangely ambivalent). And then: Scooter Libby’s indictment — the first celebration of Fitzmas. And then; the Detainee Treatment Act, and the signing statement which effectively nullified it.
But it was the Schiavo mess, and the Katrina mess, that shook the nation out of a stupor. Keeping a brain-dead woman mechanically alive is what the GOP wanted government to do. Managing a natural disaster competently, so that hundreds of people didn’t die needlessly, would have been icing on the cake, but was not absolutely required. This was the wake-up call that had been required for years.
If Dubya owns up to the mistakes of this year — this one year — tonight, I would be impressed… and strangely depressed at the same time. But it ain’t gonna happen, of course. There is too little time, and too many “courageous Americans” in attendance, to allow for a proper mea culpa.