Virtual America


It makes sense that President Bush would propose a “virtual fence” on the border with Mexico.

After all, he is pretty much a virtual president, fronting for the real powers behind the administration: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

For that matter, we have a virtual Congress. It looks like a Congress, with representatives from 435 districts and all 50 states, but it doesn”t do anything. Well, let me correct myself. It passes virtual legislation, which the virtual president then ignores by quietly issuing “signing statements” along with his signature. That is to say, he puts a virtual signature to the bills, and actually files them away under “inactive.”

Then there”s the virtual opposition, the Democratic Party, which despite having 45 votes in the Senate, and 203 votes in the House, cannot bring itself to make an effective challenge to the Republican majority on almost any issue.

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House minority leader, is claiming to be the Decider of her party in the lower chamber, saying that it will be up to her whether impeachment gets considered after the November election if the Democrats manage to take control. But if she is such a leader, surely she”d have been able to get her caucus to vote as a block and prevent such horrors as the bankruptcy “reform” bill, the oxymoronic “No Child Left Behind” act, the even more cynically named USA PATRIOT Act, and other outrages. In fact, Pelosi is a virtual leader of her party in the House, unable to get the troops to stick together on anything of consequence. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is the corresponding virtual leader of the Democrats in the Senate.

Between the two of them and their predecessors, we have a real war of virtual liberation in Iraq, which has led to the very real death of nearly 2500 American troops and 100,000+ Iraqis, and to a virtual government in that country, while the real government resides in q $1.5-billion complex in the heavily guarded Green Zone of Baghdad”a mammoth building which is a virtual embassy”the largest “embassy” in the world.

We also have a virtual “war” on terror, which our virtual president and his all-too-real handlers are using to frighten the public silly, so that they can turn the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights into a virtual document, suitable for framing and for torturing students in mandatory civics classes, but useless in terms of defining a system of tripartite government with checks and balances, or in protecting individual liberty.

This effort to render the Constitution and Congress vestigial is being assisted by the U.S. Supreme Court, where real jurists who took their job of defending the Constitution seriously have been replaced by recent appointees like John Roberts and Sam Alito, and much earlier by Clarence Thomas and Anthony Scalito, all of whom are virtual jurists”hard-right Republican partisans posing as impartial justices.

As we head towards November, we will have a virtual campaign for Congress, in which the virtual opposition has systematically worked to eliminate real candidates with real oppositional views in favor of cautious drones who can be expected to play the role of virtual opposition during the final two years of the Bush virtual presidency. If this weeding out process works as planned, we will have a virtual election in November, which will leave Republicans in power in Congress until 2008, when we can have another virtual election for a virtual president.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s new book, “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is due out May 1.

He can be reached at:




CounterPunch contributor DAVE LINDORFF is a producer along with MARK MITTEN on a forthcoming feature-length documentary film on the life of Ted Hall and his wife of 51 years, Joan Hall. A Participant Film, “A Compassionate Spy” is directed by STEVE JAMES and will be released in theaters this coming summer. Lindorff has finished a book on Ted Hall titled “A Spy for No Country,” to be published this Fall by Prometheus Press.