Wednesday, December 28


Chris Floyd tells it like it is:

For let's be clear about this: only the Establishment -- the institutional powers-that-be -- can break an outlaw president. Millions marched in the street against Nixon and the system; whole city quadrants went up in flames in those days; but none of this was decisive in the corridors of power. ... It was his insult to the institutions -- the Watergate break-in of Democratic headquarters, the subsequent cover-up and subversion of the legal system, the defiance of Congress -- that led to his downfall. He pushed too far, tried to grab too much -- and the Establishment pulled him short.

And it will have to be the Establishment that breaks Bush -- or he won't be broken. All the blogs in the world won't bring him down, no matter how much truth they tell, how much bloodsoaked Bushist dirt they expose.
That's why the spy scandal is so pivotal. Because it is a direct, open and unignorable challenge to the institutional life of the American Establishment. In it, the Bush Regime is saying to the various powers-that-be, especially in Congress and the courts, but also to centers of power and influence outside government: you no longer have any power. All real power is now in our gift. Your laws, your institutions, your traditions, the whole complex infrastructure of checks and balances that have sustained society are now essentially meaningless. As in ancient Rome, we will keep the old forms, but the life of the state has now passed into the hands of the autocrat and his court. His arbitrary will can override any law -- although of course, strong law will still be applied to his enemies, and to the riff-raff in the lower orders.

How will the Establishment deal with this direct challenge? The past few years give little grounds for hope: the Democrats spineless, conflicted, co-opted and corrupt; the Republicans slavish, bellicose, cruel and criminal; the media timorous, witless, corporate-controlled; big business absolutely rolling in gravy from the autocrat's larder; academia cowed, silenced, ignored, demonized; the military acquiescent in criminal aggression, top-heavy with time-servers currying autocratic favor. Only the courts provide some stray sparks of hope, although they too are now loaded with political sycophants, corporate bagmen and knuckle-dragging throwbacks produced by the Right's decades-long devolution of American jurisprudence. Prosecutors like Patrick Fitzgerald and Elliot Spitzer "keep hope alive," but their efforts will mean little in a system where lawlessness at the top has been countenanced by the rest of the Establishment. And in any case, the outcome of their work lies ultimately with the Supreme Court -- the same court that shredded the Constitution in awarding power to Bush in the first place, and which is now led by a Bushist apparatchik.

Still, you don't go through a constitutional crisis with the Establishment you want; you go through a constitutional crisis with the Establishment you have. And this sad, sick crew, ladies and gentlemen, is all we have. If they swallow the spy scandal, if they don't push back now -- and I mean really push back, not just make a lot of harrumphing noise or hold a few toothless hearings or get a couple of underlings offered up as ritual sacrifices to save the Leader -- then we will have well and truly and finally lost the Republic that Franklin, Jefferson and Madison gave us so long ago.

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