Let us be absolutely clear on what has taken place. This was not simply a midterm election, not just a historic running of the table, not just a scathing repudiation of virtually everything the Bush administration has stood for since they swaggered into Washington six long years ago.
It was so very much more than this.
The back of the "Neo-conservative Revolution" has been broken, perhaps not for all time - simply because nothing truly evil ever really dies - but for a good long while. The ideology foisted upon an unwilling public by the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Ledeen and the rest, the ideology that has given us slaughter in Iraq and a ravaged reputation abroad, has been exposed and eviscerated. The Project for the New American Century, and all that was spawned from it, has been relegated, for now, to the dustbin of history.
As unutterably massive as this is, it still does not capture the entirety of the event.
All we have to tie together this amazing and confusing experiment are a few old pieces of paper. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the only truths that each and every citizen of this country have completely in common. They are our unifying theme, our organizing principle, and we share this together because the basic idea was, and remains, that these belong to us and defend us and set us, now and forever, free.
Before the sun came up on Wednesday, that shared heritage had been under a savage, unrelenting attack by men and women who have no respect for the idea and the dream which makes us all that we are as a people. The right to a trial has been shattered, the right to stand before your accuser has been removed, the right to be secure in home and person from governmental intrusion has been swept by the boards, and all by a president who once referred to the Constitution as "just a God damned piece of paper."
These cancers have not been cut out simply because of an election, of course. But the first, vital step towards repairing our shared heritage was taken on Tuesday night, simply because we have at long last returned to the basic Constitutional requirement of checks and balances within this government. No longer will the best interests of the people be slapped aside by people who have no patience for the process that was laid out by wiser and better men. Some logs have been thrown in the road, and for now, a real chance for healing has been gifted to us by the very democratic institutions these people would shun and shatter. The power of the vote, so often maligned and disdained, has been restored.
Much remains to be done. The departure of Donald Rumsfeld from the Pentagon will not heal Iraq, nor will it bring back to life the soldiers and civilians who have died thanks to the hubris of others. The cornering of Dick Cheney has not sapped him of his power. George W. Bush remains an incurious front man whose very existence in that seat of power will stand as a constant threat to the safety and security of this nation and the world entire.
"U.S. envoy tells Iraqis election won't change policy," reads the Associated Press headline from Wednesday. That, in and of itself, says all we need to know about what remains to be done. For the first time in far too long, however, an opportunity has arrived to do more than scream into the thunderstorm and damn the rain.
The real work begins now.
Caution: automotive analogy ahead. This should have been two posts. Fuck it, I'm rollin'!
A good part of any job, as any mechanic will tell you, is the diagnosis, which the customer sees for the first time in the written estimate. The other part of the job is thoughtful application of theory, experience, knuckles and know-how, applied in such a manner so as to make the customer happy and not lose yer ass doin' it.
There's a third part, after the job is complete. This is the 'creative writing' phase, in which the mechanic prepares the final statement of cost for the customer. This is where the customer's expectation of final cost is revised to justify additional problems encountered during the repair process. He knows generally what's coming. He may bitch mightily, but, if the job is done correctly and he has no further problems, he'll be satisfied.
If it's OK to do a job well, it's OK to be paid well for doing it.
Most of the time you get what you pay for. Sometimes you don't. Our nation is in one of those times you don't.
If Bush were a mechanic, and speaking as a mechanic, thank God he's not, he'd be in jail right now, cleaning customer-applied tar and feathers out of his ass along with some buckshot. If he had pulled this shit on some of the adult motorcyclists I've dealt with over the years, he'd be dead.
Bush is like the worst sort of incompetent shade-tree shyster mechanic you could imagine, the kind that gives the rest of us a bad name, and has caused reams of legislation to protect the customer and make honest mechanics' lives miserable.
First, he completely bungled his diagnosis of what went wrong, and of what was required after 9/11. He had always wanted to dismantle the engine of Iraq, when all that was really needed was some work on the alternator of Afghanistan. He lied, and insisted the crankshaft needed replaced, knowing it didn't but desperately, pathologically, wanting to. Congress, as inept a customer as Bush was a mechanic, and whom we entrusted to get the problem fixed and keep our nation runnin' good, OK'ed the deal on an open-ended estimate. Kinda like lettin' the tow truck driver negotiate for you when he's in cahoots with the garage. Big mistake.
Then, this man who should never have been allowed anywhere near so valuable a toolbox, turned to. He took Afghanistan apart and then lost interest and left it on the bench in pieces Then, even though it ran a little rough and coulda used minor work, he took Iraq apart with hammers instead of wrenches.
He couldn't fix what he had fucked up, but he kept asking us for more and more money, which he split with his buddies to go buy beer and crank so they could do the unnecessary in ever more of a frenzy of destruction and incompetence.
When we started to complain about all the bungling, the unnecessary work and expense, he blamed us for getting in the way of fulfilling his long-standing fantasy of being a great mechanic who thought he could fix anything. He took the great vehicle of our Constitution further and further apart, trying to fix what wasn't broken, and in the process he fucked it up big time, all the while insisting that his was the only way to do it and we should go fuck ourselves.
That's where our country stands now: strewn in pieces all over a backyard, some parts turning rusty, some lost in the weeds, with a bunch of incompetent, cranked-up power-drunk wrench jockeys damn near breakin' their arms pointin' blame at anyone who isn't them.
Somewhere along the line, some sooner, some later, we realized we needed a new, competent mechanic, one who would tackle the job of re-assembling our nation from parts in unlabelled boxes and cans, under workbenches, fallen through holes in the floor. Bush and his evil little elves fought this tooth and nail.
So we took a vote.
What we've got now, just after the election, ain't perfect, but for the first time in years there's hope. Bush is still there, but we're on the verge of wresting the most destructive of his tools out of his grubby little mitts. We've banished some of his henchmen who contributed to the mess, and replaced them with folks who need to be given a chance to roll their sleeves up and see what they can do with the mess Bush has left.
Cooler heads have already been called in. Bush 41's practical mechanics are rushing to get Junior's ass out of the crack he's gotten us into. Again. The first time was in Florida in 2000, and they may be regretting it. Baker and Gates are heavyweights, and Baker owes the nation big time for getting the Chimp installed as president, waaay over his head, in the first place. Gates, for all the Iran-Contra bullshit, knows the Middle East pretty well, unlike that senile old war criminal and despoiler of the military, Rumsfeld. We will see how well reality-based adults handle the mess caused by Bush's juvenile, delusional, ideological wet dream.
Things are lookin' up. Perhaps we can yet turn the United States from a badly used Fiat (carefully chosen word) back into a smooth runnin' Cadillac.
And the third part? The final bill? It will be the biggest shock anyone has ever had, but we will have to pay it. It always costs a lot more to have a good mechanic straighten out the mess caused by a bad one.
Don't choose a mechanic based on what he tells you about his abilities, 'cuz he's lyin'. Talk to his customers and look at some of his work. Peer into his toolbox, see what he's got to work with. If the majority of us had done that earlier, we wouldn't be in the jam we're in now. Maybe we've learned that lesson. Then again...