Our national nightmare ends today. That which began a little over eight years ago when five members of the US Supreme Court conducted a bloodless coup and placed in power a little man from Texas ends today in front of throngs of people on the National Mall. A democratically elected President will replace a man who lied to us, who showed contempt for the institutions he was pledged to defend, and who just plain screwed up at every turn. A man who tried to turn us against each other -- remember the TIPS program? -- who tried to take Orwell's game and go pro with it. A man so crooked and dishonest he made Richard M. Nixon look like a freakin' boy scout.
Two good things that have come from these last eight years: first no longer can anyone say without fear of contradiction that New Hampshire produced the worst president that ever occupied the White House (Franklin Pierce). And second, there seems to be a national consensus that we can, should, and indeed must do better. Starting today.
Actually, it started a couple of years ago at the local level. Here in New Hampshire we shed some entrenched Republicans at the Congressional level and elected a Democratic governor. We finished the job last November. If you had told me 15 years ago -- hell, even five years ago -- that New Hampshire voters would vote for a black man for president, elect a Democratic Congressional delegation, a return a Democratic governor to office, and elect solid Democratic majorities in both houses of the state Legislature, I would have thought you were smoking something. But it happened.
And last week, we saw perhaps the strongest evidence of the change that is to come. Compare the answer of Dubya's attorney general, Michael Mukasey, to that of Obama nominee Eric Holder when asked, essentially, the same question: Is waterboarding torture?
"I don't know what's involved in waterboarding," [Mukasey] told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), arguing he first needed to be "read into" the administration's program. Mukasey pledged to study the matter and said he would order a "review" after being confirmed.
(From the Huffington Post.)
ERIC HOLDER: I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, waterboarding is torture.
That review that Mukasey promised never happened, but in light of Holder's statement it seems that there's perhaps not really that much of a need for a review.
Let's hope that this sort of willingness to call a spade a spade and to right the wrongs of the last eight years permeates the rest of the administration. Let's hope that the era of politics where voters made decisions based on narrowly defined self-interest, fear, and manipulation of hot-button issues is over, and that we are going to live in a society in which people look after one another, rather than spy on one another.
See ya round, Dubya. Texas is a big place with lots of brush of brush to clear. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.