Screw the Wingnuts
by Peter Shelton
Apr 30, 2009 | 929 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

So I’m putting the “Invacare” invalid toilet seat back together on the kitchen floor. Both Ellen and I had nightmares that we couldn’t reassemble the thing, with its legs and braces and handles, before my second hip replacement this week. So, I got the pieces down from the attic with plenty of time to figure it out.

It was pretty simple, really. Most of the sections are held together with machine screws and wingnuts, the simplest, most idiot-proof kind of fastener. All you need to work them is opposable thumbs.

They made me think about this new feature on Salon called “Ask a Wingnut.” Every week they choose a question to be answered by a “real live conservative and former Bush administration official.” From his “undisclosed location” this anonymous patriot has explained the right’s fear of same-sex marriage: It’s not about bigotry, it’s about “respect for… social traditions that have demonstrated they exist for everyone’s benefit.” Everyone?

In another column he said Republicans don’t blame the mainstream media for their losses in 2006 and 2008, but went on to detail the myriad ways the “left-skewed” MSM inevitably screws conservative candidates.

This week’s question from a reader was: “Why can’t my conservative friends admit that George W. Bush broke the United States of America?” The Wingnut’s answer: It wasn’t W’s fault.

It was faulty intelligence that led us to war in Iraq. Bush’s “war on terror” has been unfairly maligned, The Wingnut claims. Instead of hand-wringing about America’s despised image in the Muslim world, let’s talk about Libya, how the administration’s tough talk got Moammar Kadafi to abandon his nuclear ambitions. On the economy: Also not Bush’s fault. Wall Street saw the Democrats coming in 2006 with their “near-certain tax increases” and naturally retreated. The housing bubble/mortgage crisis: That was Bill Clinton’s doing, encouraging lending to unqualified (read “minority”) Americans.

The Wingnut didn’t mention climate change and his man’s bullying insistence that it does not exist, thereby crippling American innovation and leadership. He didn’t choose to talk about the pirate bankers, encouraged by Ronald Reagan’s deregulators to gamble away my retirement money.

And he didn’t mention torture or the moral quagmire brought on by the administration’s lies: America doesn’t torture, torture isn’t torture, torture is lawful, torture works. Now we have the spectacle of Dick Cheney out on the stump again saying the right thing to do is whatever keeps us safe. And that he, Bush, Rummy, et al, should certainly not be held accountable, that they are in fact above the law.

I was traveling in Wyoming earlier this winter, having an otherwise nice day, skiing with a middle-aged woman who shared her thoughts on teenage daughters, horses, skiing history. Then she volunteered that Dick Cheney, a sometime neighbor, was really a “very nice man,” and I had to summon all of my strength, all the restraint I possessed, and more, not to push her out of the chairlift.

President Obama doesn’t suffer, apparently, from these vengeful demons. Or at least he doesn’t show it if he does. He seems a truly measured political animal. On torture, he is walking a tightrope between the folks who believe the only way America can regain its moral standing, and our personal pride, is to come clean on torture – find out what happened, who authorized what and accept responsibility for it – and the people who say the past is past, America can’t afford to admit wrongdoing (or worse, America can do no wrong), we must move on.

So far Mr. Obama has managed to thread this needle as he has so many delicate passages in his first 100 days. And he’s doing it in a way that didn’t occur to The Wingnut, by assuming that America is not actually broken, not irrevocably broken anyway.

This is his genius, and the big change from the previous leadership. Instead of playing to our fear, Obama appeals to our optimism, to the hope that we’ll pull out of this mess and help lead the world toward a more cooperative, more responsible future. It’s a brilliant attitude (and we’ve seen lately how much depends on outlook, emotion) – attitude backed by the idea that government can and should be a force for justice.

The Wingnut says the Bush administration “will be vindicated by history.” I for one would love to see Dick Cheney handcuffed to a wall. But that’s probably not the vindication The Wingnut had in mind.
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