November 04, 2007

You can do it too, George

"ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 4, — About 500 opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights activists were arrested today as the government of General Pervez Musharraf tried to consolidate its control after imposing emergency rule." New York Times.

George W. Bush must be sitting in the den at Camp David, getting ready for a long afternoon watching the Colts-Patriots game, and thinking: Why can't I do that? I think we all know by now that W has nothing but contempt for the democratic process, the bothersome routine of having to ask Congress for money, for "authority" to bomb the next country on his list. He's a natural-born autocrat, but unfortunately for him, he ascended to his father's ancestral throne in a nominal democracy, the United States of America, and so far the practice of locking up your political opponents has not gained the traction here that it enjoyed in Nazi Germany or the Stalinist Soviet Union. Bush has done everything he can to move this country toward a banana republic with a junta-style leadership. Secrecy, duplicity, Guantanamo, Jose Padilla, Abu Ghraib, illegal wiretapping, illegal wars, massive corruption, the evisceration of the currency. He's accomplished so much, yet there's so little time left. I think that's why he finds his partner in terrizm-fighting, Pervez the Sheriff, so inspiring. You see, Pervez came to power 8 years ago in a military coup, not unlike Bush's stolen election of 2000. And Pervez's "term," like Bush's, was nearing completion. The Pakistani Supreme Court seemed determined to dash Pervez's hopes for tenure as Strongman-for-Life. Musharraf's response was a model of elegance and clarity: he got rid of the Supreme Court, then closed down the TV stations and the telephone system and the hostile press, then started arresting everyone who opposed him. It was an "emergency," the emergency being that Pervez was about to have his death-grip pried away from the levers of power.

What to do? Pakistan has been such a valuable ally in the war on terror that it seems folly, so we're told, to cluck-cluck about the Sheriff's tyrannical response to dissent. We have to remember that among his chief detractors are Muslim fundamentalists, terrorists, in other words. Strict insistence on democratic purity might result in another Muslim theocracy, like the one we've installed in Iraq, only this Muslim country would be fully armed with the Islamic Bomb. Haven't we learned anything from deposing Saddam Hussein?

Interesting as all that might be, it's a different "lesson learned" that I'd like to pass along to our own Tyrant-in-Waiting. It would be easier here to maintain power illegally than in Pakistan. You don't just have to wish, George; you can have it too. I hope you bear in mind when you're rounding people up that I gave you the idea. Let's look at things practically:

First, the Pakistani militant Islams are a tough crowd. They take to the streets, they get violent, they burn things. Americans are push-overs. They write blogs and letters to the editor. So what? Once you announce that you're not leaving, Americans will just roll over for it. Trust me, I know a lot of Americans.

Second, Congress won't do anything. The Republicans will stand behind you, and a lot of the Democrats will sign on to a nonbinding "sense of the Congress" that you did what you had to do, and to do otherwise would make America weaker in the face of its enemies, the ones who would do America harm.

Third, the mass media will like it. A coup d'etat is something new, and nothing sells like a new product. The cable news networks will rig up some new logos: "American Junta." "America: The Bush Coup." Their ratings will go way up.

Fourth, the military will play along. Don't they always? Chain of command, blah blah blah, the President must know what he's doing.

Fifth, you don't have to arrest anyone or close anything down. No one will care. After a slight initial shock, it will dawn on Americans they don't have to watch Presidential campaigns anymore, or ever hear the words "Hillary Clinton" or "Rudy Giuliani" again. This will go a long way toward alleviating the slight discomfort at seeing the American experiment end.

Finally, the world won't care either. They're so tired of our hypocritical democratic posturing, it will be a relief when we begin admitting what we've become.

It's up to you, George. I don't know if this country is worth the trouble, but it's yours if you want it.

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