By Garrison Keillor
The Chicago Tribune
Wednesday 15 March 2006
Spring arrived in New York last week for previews, a sunny day
chill in the air, but you could smell mud, and with a little
could sort of smell grass. I put on a gray jacket, instead of black,
went to the opera and saw Verdi's "Luisa Miller," a Republican opera
which love is crushed by the perfidiousness of government. A helpful
for these times. I am referring to the Current Occupant.
The Republican Revolution has gone the way of all flesh. It took
Congress and the White House, horns blew, church bells rang, sailors
each other, and what happened? The Republicans led us into a reckless
foreign war and steered the economy toward receivership and wielded
as if there were no rules. Democrats are accused of having no new
Republicans are making some of the old ideas look awfully good, such
constitutional checks and balances, fiscal responsibility, and the
realism in foreign affairs and taking actions that serve the national
interest. What one might call "conservatism."
The head of the National Security Agency under President Ronald
Lt. Gen. William Odom, writes on the Web site NiemanWatchdog.org that
sees clear parallels between Vietnam and Iraq: "The difference lies in
consequences. Vietnam did not have the devastating effects on US power
Iraq is already having." He draws the parallels in three stages and
that staying the course will only make the damage to US power greater.
a chilling analysis, and one that isn't going to come from the
Party. It's starting to come from Republicans, and they are the ones
must rescue the country from themselves.
I ran into a gray eminence from the Bush I era the other day in an
airport, and he said that what most offended him about Bush II is the
incompetence. "You may disagree with Republicans, but you always had
recognize that they knew what they were doing," he said. "I keep going
to that intelligence memo of August 2001, that said that terrorists
plans to hijack planes and crash them into buildings. The president
and he didn't even call a staff meeting to discuss it. That is lack of
attention of a high order."
Over the course of time, the Chief Occupant has been cruelly
over and over. He sat and was briefed on the danger of a hurricane
out a major American city, and without asking a single question, he
from the table and walked away and resumed his vacation. He played
New Orleans was flooded. It took him four days to realize his
to do something. When the tsunami killed 100,000 people in Southeast
he was on vacation and it took him 72 hours to issue a statement of
The Republicans tied their wagon to him and, as a result, their
revolution is bankrupt. He has played the terrorism card for all it is
and campaigned successfully against Adam and Steve and co-opted whole
flocks of Christians, but he is done now, kaput, out of gas, for one
reason. He doesn't represent the best that is our country. Not even
He openly, brazenly, countenanced crimes of torture at Guantanamo,
Ghraib and Bagram. He engaged in illegal surveillance, authorized the
of people without charge and "disappeared" them to foreign jails. And
finagled this war, which, after three years of violence, does not look
be heading toward a happy ending. And now it's up to Republicans to
their country first and call the gentleman to account.
The Current Occupant is smart about handling a political mess. The
strategy is to cut and run and change the subject. You defend the
ports deal in manly terms until you lose a vote in a House committee
then you retreat - actually, you get the Dubai people to do it for
and that's it, End of Story.
Harriet Miers was fully qualified one day and gone the next.
Security was going to be overhauled to give us the Ownership Society,
then the stock market went in the toilet and Republicans got nervous,
suddenly it was Never Mind and on to the next new thing.
Let's bring the boys home. Otherwise, let's send this man back to
and see what sort of work he is capable of and let him start making a
contribution to the world.
(Garrison Keillor is an author and the radio host of "A Prairie Home