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The Power of Audacity


The Bush/Rove Dynasty of Darkness understands the power of audacity. They want it ALL, RIGHT NOW, FOREVER, and they’re daring the Democrats to step up and stop them. And instead of stopping them, the Democrats are saying, “Ah, me too! Sort of…”

Can you remember right after the “election” of 2000, when pundits clucked about how Bush was going to have to govern from the center because he not only lacked a mandate, he lacked a simple majority? Can you remember Bush’s first pronouncements, when he told us he wanted to be perceived as being “humble”?

Instead of humility, Rove/Bush took their cue from radical wingnut/Bush advisor Grover Norquist. Norquist has professed a desire to “starve government so completely we can get it into a bathtub and drown it.” He has a portrait of Lenin in his living room, and often quotes Lenin’s words to his fellow wingnuts — “Probe with bayonets, looking for weakness.”

Rove/Bush saw a weakness — Democratic fatigue/fear. The Democrats clearly wanted some breathing room after the (Republican-caused) tumult of the Clinton impeachment debacle. They wanted to be perceived as “nice,” and “helpful” to the process. They were hoping they were right about Dubya — that he was just a slightly dim puppet of big business who, if left to his own devices, would spend his days playing T-ball on the White House front lawn and reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to school groups.

Did even the most pessimistic lefty ever, in his/her worst nightmares, believe that Rove/Bush would be this audacious?

* Roll back every progressive piece of environmental legislation in the last 30 years (including bills authored by Republicans), and put big business whores in every regulatory position of authority?

* Eliminate key parts of the Bill of Rights with the “Patriot Act” to give John Ashcroft more leeway in dealing with whoever he deems an enemy?

* Shove through a gigantic tax break for the richest one percent of taxpayers, while turning a large surplus into a hideous deficit? And threaten even bigger tax cuts, producing bigger deficits, so the wealthiest one percent can have bigger bankrolls?

* Take such a radical, way-out view on corporate reform that even sober Republican CEO’s are grumbling, because no one wants to play the stock market anymore, for fear of getting ripped off?

* Bring back a convicted felon (Poindexter) to run the single most intrusive government agency ever conceived (“Information Awareness Office”) that would have George Orwell shaking his head in wonder?

* Put forward a string of radical right-wing ideologues for Judges — the very kind of “activist” Judges that the right-wing has been decrying for years?

* Screw families with autistic children by slipping in a rider to the Homeland Security bill that denies them their day in court against Eli Lilly, after taking multimillions of Big Pharma-bucks during the last two campaigns?

* Shove through a multibillion dollar gift to Defense contractors disguised as a “Micro-Star Wars” missile non-defense system that EVEN DONALD RUMSFELD says won’t shield us from foreign attack?

* Declare that ONLY wingnut Republicans can be on science panels. ONLY wingnut Republicans will be appointed to office, ONLY wingnut Republicans will find a home in a Homeland Security Department stripped of civil service regulations. And, oh, by the way, Lobbyists? “You not only must fill the coffers of the GOP, but you also have to starve the other side, and we’ll be watching.”

Bush/Rove know just how to cover this audacity — with a tsunami of bland p.r. speak. “I’m a uniter, not a divider.” Right. Even the most timid opposition to any Bush/Rove atrocity elicits a response like, “They’re just playing politics,” or “They’re obstructionists.” We all know what “Compassionate Conservatism” means now — slashing school lunches, denying the elderly affordable prescription drugs, denying the victims of medical malpractice the right to sue the offender, and most of all, LYING.

Lying is a key part of the Bush/Rove audacity machine. They certainly learned during the Clinton years that if Drudge says it and Limbaugh repeats it, Big Media will report it — and that makes it true. Where to begin with the Bush/Rove lies?

* They LIED, again and again, about Saddam and bin Laden being in cahoots.

* They LIED about the California energy crisis being caused by “failure to build enough power plants” (Enron, anyone?)

* They LIED about Saddam having nuclear weapons (or at least they haven’t proven it, despite every opportunity to present even the smallest wisp of evidence)

* TheyLIED about the Kyoto Accords (and every other piece of environmentally sound policy) lacking “sound science.” (?)

* They LIED about giving approval for a seat on the 9/11 Commission to the families of the victims (how tough would it have been to appoint Warren Rudman?)

Both sides know that every Bush/Rove budget number is a lie.

Both sides know that virtually every Bush/Rove press release about Iraq is a lie.

Both sides know that every single word that comes out of Ari Fleischer’s mouth (including “and” and “the”) is a lie.

And the poor, pathetic Democrats? It’s almost as if they can’t believe that Bush/Rove are being so mean, nasty and BOLD. They seem to think this is all a bad dream, and they’ll wake up and everything will be nice and collegial and friendly again.

There’s only one hope for the Dems, and I have no confidence whatever they’ll avail themselves of it. The only way to fight audacity is with more audacity. Instead of fighting a hopeless defensive battle where the Dems try to make hideous, outrageous Bush/Rove programs slightly less egregious. The Republicans get to be the big, bold, swaggering newsmakers, and the Dems are relegated to role of timid, ineffectual, wimpy rubberneckers.


Imagine the headlines if the Dems did any of these things —

* PROPOSE A NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, WITH 0% PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT FOR SENIORS — Here’s an audacious premise — health care is a RIGHT for every American, not just another “consumer product” designed to enrich folks like Bill Frist. Some things aren’t negotiable — like health. And how do we pay for this? Well, that 28 BILLION dollars from the non-workable micro-Star Wars program is a start…

* PROPOSE A RADICAL “SOAK THE RICH” TAX PLAN TO ERASE THE DEFICIT — Oh my God! Soak the rich? No one wants that…except everyone who makes less than $500,000.

* PROPOSE A NATIONAL DEFENSE STRATEGY BASED AROUND THREE WORDS — GET OSAMA FIRST — Tell Junior he can’t go off on any more foreign adventures until he keeps his promise to get Osama dead or alive. Be tougher than he is on this.


* NOMINATE YOUR OWN JUDGES — That way when Bush tries to shove some Confederate stooge like Charles Pickering down your throats, you can point to your own nominee and say, “Gee, here’s someone who actually FAVORS the Martin Luther King Holiday, like, oh, say 95% of the American people.”

Bush/Rove and the wingnuts have mastered the p.r. technique of “getting out in front” of every issue as it comes up. Notice how they were all over the Sabbath Gasbag shows screaming that Nancy Pelosi was a “Latte Liberal”…and notice that when Bill Frist was put forward, no one on the other side accused him of, oh, say, making millions from a family HMO eyeball-deep in fraud, and inserting that rider in the Homeland Security bill to hose the parents of autistic kids.

Our system depends on a vigorous debate. Right now, the vigorous debate consists of one side holding a very large mallet (Bush/Rove) and one side acting like a compliant tent peg (guess who). If the Democrats don’t learn the power of audacity, we’ll be a one party system. If that happens, well, Dubya himself said it best — the Evil-Doers will have won.

Rich Procter is a cranky, disaffected Democrat whose work often appears in ““. He can be reached at



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