Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bush: Raising Canes

Keith Olbermann's Special Commentaries make me want to cry with pride when I hear them. (Thank you Crooks and Liars for video and transcripts):

On the 22nd of May, 1856, as the deteriorating American political system veered towards the edge of the cliff, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina, shuffled into the Senate of this nation, his leg stiff from an old dueling injury, supported by a cane.

[...]

Brooks found Sumner at his desk, mailing out copies of a speech he had delivered three days earlier — a speech against slavery.

The Congressman matter-of-factly raised his walking stick in mid-air, and smashed its metal point, across the Senator's head.

Congressman Brooks hit his victim repeatedly. Senator Sumner somehow got to his feet and tried to flee. Brooks chased him, and delivered untold blows to Sumner's head. Even though Sumner lay unconscious and bleeding, on the Senate floor, Brooks finally stopped beating him, only because his cane finally broke.

Others will cite John Brown's attack on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry as the exact point after which the Civil War became inevitable.

In point of fact, it might have been the moment — not when Brooks broke his cane over the prostrate body of Senator Sumner - but when voters in Brooks's district started sending him new canes.

[...]

And also here, we have institutionalized the terrorizing of the opposition. True domestic terror:

– Critics of your administration in the media receive letters filled with fake anthrax.

Braying newspapers applaud, or laugh, or reveal details the FBI wished kept quiet, and thus impede or ruin the investigation.

– A series of reactionary columnists encourages treason charges against a newspaper that published "national security information" — that was openly available on the internet.

– One radio critic receives a letter, threatening the revelation of as much personal information about her as can be obtained — and expressing the hope that someone will then shoot her with an AK-47 machine gun.

– And finally, a critic of an incumbent Republican Senator, a critic armed with nothing but words, is attacked by the Senator's supporters, and thrown to the floor, in full view of television cameras, as if someone really did want to re-enact the intent and the rage of the day Preston Brooks found Senator Charles Sumner.

Of course, Mr. President, you did none of these things.

You instructed no one to mail the fake anthrax. Nor undermine the FBI's case. Nor call for the execution of the editors of the New York Times. Nor threaten to assassinate Stephanie Miller. Nor beat up a man yelling at Senator Allen. Nor have the first lady knife Michael J. Fox.* Nor tell John McCain to lie about John Kerry.

No, you did not.

And the genius of the thing, is the same, as in King Henry's rhetorical question about Archbishop Thomas Becket: "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

All you have to do, sir… is hand out enough new canes.

* (From earlier in the Special Commentary)

"It's always easy," [First Lady Laura Bush] said of Mr. Fox's commercials — and she used this phrase twice — "to manipulate people's feelings."

Where on earth might the First Lady have gotten that idea, Mr. President?

From your endless manipulation of people's feelings about terrorism?

"However they put it," you said Monday of the Democrats, on the subject of Iraq , "their approach comes down to this: the terrorists win and America loses."

No manipulation of feelings there.

No manipulation of the charlatans of your administration into the only truth-tellers.

No shocked outrage at the Kerry insult that wasn't; no subtle smile as the First Lady silently sticks the knife in Michael J. Fox's back; no attempt on the campaign trail to bury the reality that you have already assured that the terrorists are winning.

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