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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Bushed by Political Fatigue



In every boxing match in which both of the two contenders refuse to go down, there comes a time when both boxers are not fighting but staggering against each other. Like a drunken late night argument that has gone on much too long, in which the participants groggily look at the clock wondering what this was all about and when they can finally go to sleep; American politics has wound down.

The ads for Air America, the new liberal talk radio network, (as opposed to old ones like NPR or Pacifica) feature sympathetic liberal commentators looking down understandingly like therapists at the passerby under the slogan, 'Bushed.' And indeed that is what the country or at least the talking head section of the country, the left and right wing chattering classes who know all the ins and outs of all the talking points, who can lecture at lenght on why we should or shouldn't drill in Alaska, on the pros and cons of malpractice insurance caps and the details of each Senator's vote on the Patriot Act; is going through.

It has been a brusing four terms of non-stop combat. The two terms of the Clinton administration in which the right and left confronted each other across a stalemated executive and legislative divide and the second term of a Bush administration that has seen the country tear itself a part and then give a resigned sigh and sit back down to wait it all out. Like that late night argument, all the points have been made and there is nothing new to say. Everything that can be said about Iraq and Afghanistan and Tax Cuts has been said. The bright young sloganeers grinding away and rerunning tapes of enemy politicians in the eternal hunt for sound bites to taunt them with have run out of slogans and out of ideas. The seasoned old hands on the hill and in the house meanwhile have gone on making the same dirty deals they always did while in the background Senator McCain grouchily aspired to outrage.

But for all the occasional explosions of activity the country is torpid, slumbering beneath a haze of exhaustion and battle fatigue. The top political news story of the past few days has been Laura Bush reading prepeared jokes from a professional comedy writer at a correspondents dinner. The death toll in Iraq grinds on with more dead young American men being ground through the mill of a war that even arguing over has come to seem futile to the left and the right.

9/11 recedes into memory as an atrocity whose final resolution remains withheld from us as the corrupt fumblings of New York's Governor and Mayor replaces the towers with an abomination of ugly design manufactured by corrupt backroom deals, as the War on Terror becomes a futile attempt to bring democracy to savages and as conspiracy theorists and assorted loons pick over the ruins; their warped minds sparking with twisted ideas.

Meaning is withheld from us. Truth is withheld from us. The country is weary, seeking peace and knowing it will not find it. The talking heads, the bloggers, the pundits, the aristocracy of the angry word are tired and lacking peace or victory settle for belligerent mumblings amid the orgy of snores. And over it all rules King George, a man who had a moment of destiny that could have changed the world; who could have writen a determined page in history and instead stands over the ruins of an incoherent policy even his own enemies have grown weary of criticising.

George's destiny will not be to become a Reagan or an FDR or even a Kennedy; but ironically another Clinton. His two terms represent the triumph of mediocrity and the failure of this great nation which once produced equally great leaders to lead it; to find a man to lead them. And we the tired masses await without hope of redemption; the hour of the clock that will bring this presidency to its close.

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