We See That Now
A heartfelt—no—abject—no—craven apology to the right from the left for our campaign of hate, anger and malice against God’s own president.
By Tony Hendra
Issue Date: 2.1.04
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We confess. It’s all true. Everything you say. We trafficked in hate. We did it in anger. Just as you said, Mr. Kristol, Mr. Krauthammer, Mr. Brooks: We poisoned the airwaves and befouled the sheets of our nation’s most august publications. We attacked a sitting president, impugned his integrity, smeared his family, invaded his privacy, tried desperately to drag him down to our own filthy, rock-bottom, sewer-dwelling level.
There is no parallel between your measured criticism of Bill Clinton and our vile attacks on George W. Bush. Bill Clinton deserved everything thrown at him because a corrupt and evil man who gains the White House by underhanded means should be attacked with every weapon at the disposal of a free press. And yes, it’s true, just as your more sagacious radio hosts have maintained: Hillary Clinton does owe her success to the practice of witchcraft. And no, it’s not true that ridiculing Chelsea at the most vulnerable stage in her development was the media equivalent of child molestation. Chelsea Clinton was fair game because she is the spawn of Satan. Scurrilous of us to suggest that the tirelessly moderate and civil proponent of these and so many other truths, Robert Bartley, now resides in the circle of hell reserved for hate-mongers and bigots! Mr. Bartley dwells in the bosom of his Republican creator. We see that now.
George W. Bush cannot be, as we’ve screamed till we’re blue in the face, the cretinous finger puppet of an incalculably cynical and malevolent cabal and a ruthless neo-Confederate, bent on creating a plutocratic ruling class at home and a rapacious corporate imperium abroad. He’s one or the other. We cannot have it both ways. We see that now.
Similarly, we can hardly denigrate Rupert Murdoch and his “gutter press” while at the same time carping that without him the right would be a marginalized mob of obscurantist paranoids kept on life support by retrograde trust-fund nut jobs. Mr. Murdoch is a great populist. Lowest-common-denominator programming is an honorable tradition in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Taking such programming to China, where he is equally solicitous of a proto superpower whose interests are frequently inimical to ours, does not mean that Mr. Murdoch is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, or that NewsCorp’s money is somehow “tainted.” It’s despicable of us to suggest that all those hardworking journalists—from Bill O’Reilly to William Kristol—who take his supposedly dirty money are likewise tainted! We see that now.
What demon put into our so-called minds the idea that the ghastly tragedy of that bright morning in September 2001 might have been prevented because the Bush administration had received warnings for a month that some sort of attack might be coming? And that the president and his advisers had ignored that intelligence and then made use of the tragedy to seize the draconian emergency powers they craved and get the economy back onto a perpetual-war footing? How could we even entertain such thoughts? What venom flowed through our hate-infarcted hearts?
We’re sorry for our endless ranting about oil being the lifeblood of the Bush family circle, and The Carlyle Group existing as nothing more than a gigantic corporate kickback to its members for faithful service while in office, and the Bush team comprising the selfsame men who supported Saddam Hussein to the hilt while he was committing most of his genocidal atrocities and therefore making them his guilty accomplices. These are vicious, hateful untruths. We see that now.
The First Amendment does not give us the right to screech that young Americans are dying in Iraq so that George W. Bush can get himself legitimately elected president. It’s a bald-faced lie that his bald-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction cost them their lives. Our brave men and women in uniform know when they enlist that there is always the chance they may have to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Their motives are never—as we so squalidly claimed in the wake of the Jessica Lynch affair—to get a higher education because the military is now the sole conduit to it for the two-thirds of Americans who can’t afford it. What a despicably mercenary motive to impute to our heroes! And in any case, why isn’t the re-election of an epochal president a lofty patriotic aim, worth the sacrifice—as our great defense secretary has implied—of a few lives? Why would this aim fill us with rage and hate, instead of quiet pride?
We were wrong to call George W. Bush’s huge tax cuts legalized looting, wrong about the replacement of a $5 trillion surplus with a $3 trillion deficit. No, that is not $8 trillion down the drain in three short years. We arrived at that ridiculous conclusion by juggling the figures. If you’re as egregiously partisan as we, you can make figures prove anything. We see that now.
We apologize from the bottom of our hearts for our unfounded suspicions about the plane crash that killed Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone and his family. Only a wild-eyed conspiracy nut would link it to the crash had killed Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan. Nostra culpa! Grief unhinged our better judgment. Hey, Democrats die in planes around election time. That’s life. We better get used to it.
What drives us to ask—so shrilly, so annoyingly—why Ken Lay still isn’t in prison? Are we really certain that he deprived hundreds of thousands of people of their savings? That he helped hatch a plot to bring down the Democrats in California by destabilizing that state’s power supply? So what if that’s now happened? Has Mr. Lay done anything that is technically wrong?
Realizing now the awesome power of prayer, we’ll stop praying every moment of every day that Tom DeLay gets snatched up in the rapture. We realize, too, that the sign in his office—“This Could Be The Day” (i.e., Judgment Day)—does not utterly disqualify Mr. DeLay from assessing the best long-term interests of the nation. We believe, with him, that the poor are entirely to blame for their own poverty, and that if—sorry, when—our savior returns, he will indeed own a concealed-carry permit. We know now that Mr. DeLay is not precisely the kind of religious lunatic the Founders had in mind when separating church and state; that he and his co-religionists are in no way brutish, heathen, hate-driven humbugs whose fundamentalism makes Osama bin Laden look like the archbishop of Canterbury. We hope and pray that Mr. DeLay will guide the destiny of America till the trump of doom. Even if it is next Tuesday.
Looking back on the decade-plus of our boundless ill will and partisan fury, we’ve come to understand something absolutely vital about that glorious year 1989, the year you won the Cold War: The reason the Cold War had to be won was that it made the world a two-party system. One of them had to go. It’s the same in our great nation. What’s the point of having two (or even one and a half) parties when it leads to nothing but unending conflict, frustration, stagnation and despair? For America to bring the message to the world that ours is the best and only way, we must have unanimity. One party indivisible under God.
Yet ever since 1989, we’ve been fighting a new Cold War—in Congress, in the culture, in the media, in the nation’s schools and courts and bedrooms.
It’s time for us to … surrender. We’re tearing down the Berlin Wall of rage and malice we’ve erected between you and us. We do this before it is too late, before you reach the point where you will be forced—however reluctantly—to investigate us, confiscate our property, search our houses, seize our personal records, detain us sine die, suspend habeas corpus, take reprisals against our loved ones, hold show trials, send us to re-education camps—whatever you in your impeccable judgment deem necessary to preserve the homeland from, well, the likes of us.
But—a huge “but,” we know—if in your great hearts you can find the room to forgive us, if even the meanest of positions can be found for us in the new dispensation, let us serve you. We’ll do anything you want, no matter how menial: deleting hard drives, wiretapping journalists, delivering bags of cash to senators, transporting assets to the Caymans, firing pregnant Mexicans, evicting the disabled, laying bets for virtuous windbags, beating up young gay men, escorting Muslims to the border, performing sexual favors for The Heritage Foundation—whatever you need we’ll do it, and for free.
Some of us even have advanced skills to put at your disposal. We could help discredit Europe’s socialistic health and welfare systems and nonprofit public utilities so The Carlyle Group can privatize them. We could produce inspiring movies about the great Americans who are ushering in the thousand years of prosperity that are just around the corner. We could create upbeat news stories for the Ministry of Truth you plan for George W. Bush’s second term.
We come to you not just as sinners but as supplicants, begging not just forgiveness but inclusion. There’s a reason God named the right the right: Because it’s right. You have a monopoly on the truth, and you always have and you always will.
We see that now. We really do.