National Commentary

Nicholas F. Benton: Sweet Justice

Notwithstanding possible GOP dirty tricks in an attempt to change the outcome of the Senate race in Virginia, Tuesday’s election was a veritable bloodbath exceeding the best hopes of almost everyone sick of George Bush and Iraq. It is sweet justice, a swift and ferocious public mugging of an entire crowd of Republican stuffed shirted, brick headed bullies who’ve had 12 years in Washington, including six without any political obstruction, to prove to the world they’re way was the right one. They blew it big time.

All notion of decorum escaped these people, who determined that the Social Darwinist philosophy of “doing it because we can” would became their guide to the nation’s capital.

They became so corrupt, so unbridled in greasing the hands of their rich patrons, so cavalier in their contempt for international treaty institutions in favor of a cowboy ethic of going it alone in the world, that they brought on their own ignominious fall.

While they harassed President Clinton relentlessly with one investigation after another of harmless personal indiscretions, they presumed themselves virtually immortal, standing magically clear of accountability.

Actually, they were getting away with it all pretty well, except that a certain point, they starting really pissing off the FBI. It had to do with the administration’s stupid blame game when things started going wrong in Iraq. The leak of the identity of a covert CIA agent for a political get-even vendetta against Ambassador Wilson was one straw that broke the camel’s back.

The GOP’s fancy-pants civilians started running afoul of career military and intelligence professionals more loyal to their own and to the nation than to a bunch of sophomoric amateur political hacks.

The demise of Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Scooter Libby and other top-ranking GOP operatives all flowed from this, and the nation suddenly started to wake up.

Sickened by the hypocrisy, other whistleblowers then started chiming in. Criticism of Iraq, of illegal wiretapping, of torture and illegal detainment, of physical abuse in Iraqi prisons grew as a result, with a coup de grace being the personal fall of a Florida congressman who was protected by party superiors in his indiscretions involving minors on Capitol Hill.

DeLay’s seat was lost to a Democrat. Foley’s seat was lost to a Democrat. But the damage was far wider. It was about a year ago, when polls began showing that more than half of the American public felt the Bush administration had deliberately misled them on going into Iraq, that the handwriting truly was on the wall.

With a Democratic-controlled Congress, we’re only now going to begin learning what’s really been going on since 2000 with our government in Washington and with its operations in Iraq.

What’s taken covert probes, leaks and whistleblowers to reveal to date will now become the subject of full-blown Congressional investigations. They won’t be polite.

They’ll make what the GOP-controlled Congress did to President Clinton during his impeachment seem like a picnic.

It will be a painful process for the American population to see just how corrupt a government, unbridled by restraint or accountability, can be, especially one that believes in the precepts of Social Darwinism as its philosophy for political and daily life.

As these things begin to come to light, systematically, it won’t be a cause for joy, but for grief. This crowd ran amok, ran up the federal debt to record levels without any regard for its long-term consequences, handed out sweetheart contracts for Iraq without conscience, delivered tax cuts to their patrons at the public’s expense and left an entire American city, New Orleans, helpless in the face of a genuine disaster.

Now with the long-anticipated turnover of government, the process will begin that will uncover the single most corrupt, degenerate era in the history of the American experiment in Democracy. It is only going to get worse for President Bush, much worse, over the next two years.

The president has shown no shame for the lowest approval ratings of any president in our lifetime, and none over the fact that Democrats used to their opponents’ ties to Bush as effective political tools for electoral victory. We’ll see if he will be capable of some as the deeper crimes of his administration begin to come to light.