|Long Night's Journey Into Day|
|Good Life Blog - Politics|
|Written by Ken Martin|
|Wednesday, 05 November 2008 20:25|
Long Night's Journey Into Day
(With apologies to Eugene O'Neill)
On election night, November 4, a score or so loyal Democrats gathered at a mutual friend's house to watch election returns in the Obama-McCain presidential contest. Over the hours we cheered as state after state returns showed most favored Obama. We flipped channels and occasionally landed on Fox, only to see the living example of all the ill wrought on the world by the man Texas Monthly magazine called "Bush's Brain," Karl Rove. Loud boos all around. We complimented John McCain's generous concession speech. As Barack Obama took the stage in Chicago to acknowledge his historic victory, we wept along with Jesse Jackson and tens of thousands of others as President-Elect Obama thanked his supporters and conveyed his vision of our country's future. We were more than impressed that Obama never gloated over his victory, in fact never smiled, and instead focused on laying out the overarching themes of his presidency. (At his request, there were no fireworks, either, The New York Times reported.) As McCain reached out to the victor and promised cooperation and support, Obama thanked McCain and reached out to those who did not vote for him and invited all Americans to close ranks as a people to focus on working to address the sobering challenges we face.
Later, in personally reflecting on the election of Barack Obama as the forty-fourth president of the United States, I thought about the national blight we've suffered for the past eight years under the inept leadership of George W. Bush. The interminable war in Afghanistan. The endless and unnecessary war in Iraq. Our shattered economy-indeed the world's panicked economy-brought about by reckless executives and foolhardy deregulation.
Yet even now in the waning days of the Bush Administration there is a push by this impotent leader, one of the most unpopular presidents in our nation's history, to further weaken environmental regulations that are supposed to protect the quality of our air and water. The minions of President Bush are as eager to wield the last vestiges of power as those in the financial industry were to extract profit no matter the risk. These Bushites pray to deliver a few last favors to the soulless profiteers who put Bush in office. One example: The Washington Post reported that the Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new air quality rules to make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wildlife areas—even though half of the EPA's ten regional administrators have formally dissented from the decision and another four criticized the move in writing.
Given Bush's basement-level approval ratings and given Obama's landslide victory, I'm left nearly speechless at the audacity of this last-gasp, last-grasp to exert power over the regulatory processes. I think the words of Joseph Welch, delivered on June 9, 1954, to then Senator Joseph McCarthy during the senator's abusive attacks on the reputation of a young attorney, are applicable.
Welch, aghast at the ferocity of McCarthy's assault, launched a strong counteroffensive.
"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness," Welch said, according to the U.S. Senate's historical minutes. When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted: "Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir? At long last, have you no sense of decency?"
I would ask the Bush Administration the same question.
Ken Martin is editor of The Good Life.