Don't waste you time trying to be a go-getter
Things will get worse before they get any better
You know there's always somebody playing with dynamite --
But I don't worry about a thing, 'cause I know nothing's gonna be alright
-- Mose Allison, "I Don't Worry About a Thing"
Those of you who migrated here from George W. Bush, Will You Please Go Now?! may have noticed a distinct lack of political fulminating on this site over the last few months. That hasn't been on purpose, but neither is it something I'm particularly concerned about. I just haven't been following politics period as much lately; used to be that my daily Web-surfing began with the same 10 lefty blogs -- often even in the same order, that's how much of a routine it had become -- but most of them I probably haven't looked at in a couple weeks or more.
It's not that I don't care anymore, it's just that . . . well, you know what? Maybe I care a lot less. At least, with George W. Bush now a lame duck -- and a not-especially-popular one at that -- the whole game seems to have much less of a point than it used to. Depending on which polls you look at, Bush has an approval rating anywhere between 35 and 50 percent over the last four months, and between 38 and 47 percent during January; split the difference and let's call that a 42.5-percent rating. If you'll look at the polls again, you'll notice that nearly every single poll in the last couple months has an approval number within margin-of-error spitting distance of that 42.5 figure. So what that tells me is that there's a floor of about 42.5 percent of the American public who just aren't going to disapprove of Bush no matter what he does. Similarly, the other 55-57 percent of the public is pretty much done with Bush and don't see any reason to give him a thumbs-up.
Get it? We're at an impasse. Which is not exactly anything new for the red and blue sides of America, but before, and I'm thinking 2004 here, that impasse was worth breaking. Now I'm not sure that it is. Bush is a lame duck, and not only is a majority of the American public tired of him, in quite a few instances a majority of Congress has been tired of him, too. Whatever happened to Social Security reform? A permanent renewal of the PATRIOT Act? How come Bush's supposed star wattage wasn't able to save Tom DeLay's position atop the Republican Congressional leadership? The guy puts the "lame" in "lame duck," and not only is he a lame duck, he doesn't even have the approval ratings Clinton had at this point in his presidency. Yes, you head me right: Clinton got a beejer from an intern, which according to Republicans at the time was the crime of the century, and still had approval ratings thirty points higher than Bush, who's supposedly the savior of the free world. What I'm trying to say is that if Bush accomplishes anything of consequence in the last two years of his presidency, it'll be a miracle. So don't worry about it.
"But what about Alito?" Man, what the fuck about Alito? Look, right off the top of my head I could probably name you about a hundred guys I'd rather see on the Supreme Court, and I think that weepy-wife bit Mrs. Alito pulled during the confirmation hearings was every bit as contrived as professional wrestling, but look, this isn't the end of the world, either. Dude is not going to overturn Roe v. Wade because the Republican party doesn't want it to be overturned, so let's stop yammering on about abortion like it's the only thing that matters.
The only thing that really made the hairs stand up on my neck about Alito was his apparent willingness to grant the executive branch all sorts of new and fantastic powers, but there's an easy way to put my mind at ease about that, too: Get someone in the White House whose strings aren't being pulled by total fascists. And we're not gonna have another chance to do that until 2008, so . . . let's start focusing on 2008 and quit grab-assing around in 2004 and 2005.
Here's what I want the Democratic Party to do over the next two years: Take all the energy you were going to spend lambasting Bush and spend it coming up with:
1. A viable health-care plan. Don't let yourselves be intimidated by the Pavlov dogs on the right wing who are going to start shrieking "SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!!!!!!111!1!" the minute anyone utters the phrase "health care." Every poll I've seen in the last few years indicates that Americans as a whole think the current employer-based system of health care sucks giant donkey balls and would be open to the idea of a universal plan if it was done right. So it's time for the Democrats to stop letting Republicans determine their policy stance on this issue and start letting the people guide it instead.
2. A homeland-security reform plan. For all Bush's talk about being tough on terror and strong on security, our borders are still porous, our seaborne cargo is still going unchecked, and we still can't answer anything stronger than "Duh, I dunno" when asked if there's a possibility someone could sneak a backpack nuke into our country. Actual, relevant, boots-on-the-ground security issues have taken a big-time back seat to our current windmill-tilting in Iraq, and it's time those priorities got flipped. The Republicans aren't going to do it, so it's time the Democrats did.
3. An energy-independence plan. Some people are going to ask if this isn't just stealing a page from Bush's State of the Union speech a couple nights ago, but let's get real, son -- Bush's call for reduced dependence on foreign oil is going to go the exact same route his hydrogen-powered-cars plan and his mission-to-Mars plans went: straight down the memory hole, never to be spoken of again. Bush talking about weaning America off foreign oil is kind of like Scott Weiland vowing to get off heroin: Sure, it'd be great if he did, but how many times has he promised to do that already, and do you really believe him this time around? Trust me, we won't hear Bush utter another word about energy independence for the remainder of his presidency, so that's why the Democrats should pick up that football, which is just laying on the ground untouched, and run with it.
The most important thing, though, is that when putting together strategies on these three issues, the Democrats must remember that "Bush sucks" is not a plan. If there's one thing I've learned over the last decade or so, it's that bashing the guy who's held the office for the previous four years is a bullshit strategy for winning the presidency. It was a crashing failure for Dole in '96, it was a non-starter for Bush in '00 (even though he hustled his way into the White House anyway), and it sure as shit didn't work for Kerry in 2004. Yes, the Bush administration has been singularly self-obsessed and incompetent for the past six years now, but as I pointed out earlier, most of the people in America already know that now. And barring a miracle, by the time 2008 rolls around Bush will already be looked upon as one of the least competent, most ineffectual presidents of the last century. So why spend an entire election year telling people what they already know? The 2008 election is going to be about the next 50 years, not the last eight. Democrats, lay out a plan for how you're going to fix Bush's numerous messes, handcuff the presumptive GOP candidates to Bush if you like -- it shouldn't be hard with a field as stupefyingly lame as this one -- but come up with something more substantial than "Bush sucks" for a slogan, because by 2008 that isn't going to be any more relevatory than "Ice Cream is Delicious" or "Democrats '08: Because the Sky Is Blue!"
I know all this probably sounds kind of fallacious coming from someone who used to have a Web site called George W. Bush, Will You Please Go Now?!, but I plan on doing my part by not leaping on every little stupid thing Bush does over the next two years. The guy is at the point of self-parody already, and anything I could do to make fun of the really trivial stuff would just be piling on at this point. Sure, if he does something especially hilarious, I'll jump on that, but as for the run-of-the-mill stuff, the brain-dead speeches, the Abramoff connections, etc. etc. etc., I'll trust that y'all already know about, and have made up your mind on, such things and move on.
I'll leave the Hurricane Katrina recriminations to the Congressional investigators and the Abramoff decisions to the courts, which will leave me more time to talk about chicks and sports. That's called priorities, people.