Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chasing Straw Men

Since their victory in 2006, the only thing Congressional Democrats have demonstrated aptitude for is pageantry. The past two years have been full of hearings, hand-wringings, and witch hunts, all of which have succeeded in only one thing: preserving the status quo. The Congressional hearing is as stale a tradition as exists in American politics, an event which serves the dual purpose of allowing the side holding it to pretend it's doing something in response to public opinion while allowing the side under question to dodge questions all the while maintaining the ability to continue its scurrilous actions.

What, exactly, do Democrats and their supporters expect to gain from the testimony of Karl Rove? Surely no groundbreaking news that the current administration has been, gasp, a politicized affair. That point, I think, is beyond debate if available evidence is any guide, and certainly wouldn't be accentuated by testimony sure to resemble the award-winning performances of administration members who've gone before Rove in the sideshow on the Hill.

Americans are notorious for their lack of historical literacy, but are the Clinton years so far in the past as to be rendered unrecognizable? One would think that a period which included the impeachment of a sitting President wouldn't be so easily forgotten. Ann Coulter, even as she defends Bush to the last, just 10 or so years ago devoted an entire book to misdeeds by Clinton aides and friends, and even suggested the power couple was responsible for murder. Yet all of those on the left scandalized by such tripe are now on the other side performing that precise function.

And what is that function? To provide the populace with distractions and straw men to avert their eyes and minds from the realities of American democracy. To distort the true level of import that the average voter holds on Capitol Hill, which is next to nil.

In a totalitarian regime, manufacturing consent for the system is simple and straightforward. A democratic system however, must derive the consent from the people without force, something very easily accomplished by allowing the populace to censor themselves. It's done by feeding the public red herrings and other details to chase after, argue about, or vilify while the corridors of power remain unscathed. In China, the regime is supported through threats and force. In America, we dig our own graves.

In January, assuming the Democrats find a way not to screw up a sure thing, everyone will resume the roles they held in the Nineties, and business will continue as usual. Karl Rove will be gone from the scene, the last 8 years will go unmentioned and unprosecuted, and in their place will step new villains and new distractions. And power will still reside in the same place it does now: K Street.

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