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Can Bush Be Ousted?

By Robert Parry
October 1, 2005

Can American voters impose any meaningful accountability on George W. Bush, including possibly removing him and his team from office?

That’s a question – implicit in our recent stories about his administration’s failures – that has attracted skepticism from some readers. Several have sent e-mails expressing strong doubts that anything at all can be achieved through the electoral process, given the cowardice of the Democratic Party and the complicity of the mainstream news media.

There is much to be said for those arguments. A sub-theme of my book, Secrecy & Privilege, is that the massive conservative investment in media, think tanks and attack groups over the past three decades has led to a systemic change in U.S. politics, the creation of a right-wing machine that can crush almost anyone who gets in the way.

While there have been some cracks in that machine – with the bad news from Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, pocketbook issues like gasoline prices and corruption probes of leading Republicans – the conservatives retain a huge advantage when it comes to putting out and repeating a message that will resonate with their followers and average voters.

Liberals and the Left have been remarkably slow in recognizing the danger from this media-driven conservative juggernaut. Though progressive talk radio and Internet bloggers have begun to challenge the Right’s media dominance, those efforts are still grossly under-funded and lack anything like the reach of the conservative apparatus.

In such an imbalanced media environment, most national Democrats prefer to play it safe, staying close to the political herd. That timidity, in turn, demoralizes the liberal base, which is desperate for someone to emerge as a courageous leader.

Delusional?

A recurring theme in the e-mails responding to our articles, such as “What to Do About the Bush Problem” and “Frog-Marching Bush to the Hague,” was that it’s naïve – or even delusional – to envision the Democratic Party ever standing up to the Republicans.

Some e-mailers went on to conclude that either there’s no political answer, period, or that the answer rests in some long-range radical transformation of the system. In other words, there’s no practical way of ousting Bush or imposing any accountability, short-term.

If recent history is any guide, one would have trouble countering those e-mail arguments.

It is hard to envision the Democratic Party charting a high-risk national strategy for Election 2006 with accountability at the center. It’s difficult, too, to foresee wealthy liberals finally recognizing the need to invest heavily in media outlets and content. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Left’s Media Miscalculation.”]

More likely, the Democrats will want to cobble together some hodge-podge of domestic proposals while tacking on a critique of Bush’s Iraq War that faults him for not sending in more troops and not “fighting to win.” New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and some other presidential hopefuls already are staking out this “right-flank” option on Iraq.

There is, however, another scenario that could make accountability the key issue in Election 2006 and put rank-and-file Americans in a position of leadership.

What If?

What if the voters acted independently to defeat as many Republicans as possible, not just to put more Democrats in office, but to send a message to both parties that the extremism, the trickery and the corruption personified by the neoconservatives now in charge of the Republican Party will no longer be tolerated?

What if the result of this popular uprising against Bush is not just some marginal Democratic gains, but a landslide repudiation of recent government policies?

Would a solid Democratic majority in both houses represent a mandate for accountability, an imperative so strong that even the timid Democratic leadership couldn’t ignore it?

Might the top Democrats calculate that shirking their duty again represented more of a political risk than holding Bush accountable through investigations and possible impeachment? Is it possible that out of such a changed climate a worthy political leader – and a reformed Republican Party – might arise?

Without doubt, these questions don’t fit within today’s conventional wisdom. They don’t reflect the tendency toward modern spectator-sport politics where citizens root for a candidate the way fans cheer for a football team, albeit with a lot more passion for the football team.

But for those readers who have e-mailed us with suggestions about the need for deeper change in the American political system, is it a fair question to ask: If a movement can’t organize to repudiate a leader who has bungled so many policies back-to-back-to-back, how can that movement expect to accomplish something bigger?

While it may make little sense to cast a yes vote for Democrats as they currently present themselves, is there a case to be made for a no vote on Bush’s form of  Republicanism?


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His new book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

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