Friday, November 19, 2004

A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

I just finished watching The Hunting of the President, the movie based on the book by Gene Lyons and my favorite, Joe Conason. Watch this movie. It's about the Clinton Whitewater scandal, yes, but it goes after the broader points of the Right Wing Conspiracy; of power unchecked; of a compliant media that is going for, (as someone in the movie said), the STORY instead of the TRUTH. These points are perhaps even more relevant today.

One thing I took from the movie, that I overlooked at the time, is the story of Susan McDougall. She is a modern day hero with a sense of honor and decency that is noticeably absent from society these days. She was exonerated of all Whitewater charges, but Ken Starr wanted more from her. He trumped up some charges against her to force her to make a statement about the Clintons. They insisted that she knew something sordid about Bill and Hillary; she insisted she didn't. She told them she had nothing to offer them, and they told her - that doesn't matter, we'll tell you what to say.

They'll tell her what to say.

She refused, and guess what? She went to jail. They put her on murderer's row, and when you're in a women's prison for murder, that usually means you killed your kids, and are therefore lowest on the prison foodchain. You get a special red dress when you're a murderer, so everyone knows what you did. People spat on her. Men would urinate on her and masterbate over her on the bus from the prison to the courthouse. A judge ordered that she be released from the high security prison to a more decent one, but her captors refused. She stayed - they only take orders from the Independent Council's Office, they said. But she never lied for them. She stood up for what is right. She deserves her own statue in Little Rock, if not Washington.

You see, red-staters? This is what they're capable of. It's a matter of fundamental freedom. This could happen to any of us - and McDougall isn't the only one. There was a whole list of innocent bystanders brought down by this juggernaut of right-wing operatives.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked. When you rent this DVD, (and I know you will), make sure you check out the special features. President Clinton spoke after the premiere screening in New York. He was inspirational. I miss him so much, especially when compared to this talking monkey we have in the Oval Office today. He spoke eloquently, putting his presidency in the context of history. There were times in the history of the country when we were forced to make decisions about where we're headed. Near the end of Washington's second term, they fought for years, deciding how the country would be assembled for the future. But eventually, they settled their differences, and there were 40 years of smooth sailing. Before and during Lincoln, obviously, we came to a crossroads about slavery and the nature of the Union. But by the time Grant was elected to office, things had settled down, and again, decades of peace. The Industrial Revolution came along and again - the turmoil. Teddy Roosevelt to Taft to Wilson and they got it together. Another crossroads after World War II. And again with the civil rights movement. But each time, we got through the turmoil, chose a path, and everything settled down again.

With Clinton, he says, there was the information age. The internet, cable news, and maybe most importantly, the lack of a giant enemy, i.e. - The Soviet Union. And right now, we're still in the middle of that turmoil, so it might be hard to find our way out of it. But we have a choice, and we're 50/50. Do we choose the path of facts and reasoned argument? Or do we choose the politics of fear and personal attack? We have a choice, people. It seems clear enough to me...

Oh, and a final message to my friend who asked me to point out examples for his right-wing relative of the problem with single party rule. Well from the (last successful) President's mouth - here is your example. The Republican congress dismissed the Republican, but reasonable, original Independent Council who cleared Clinton of all charges. Nixon appointee William Rehnquist selected three judges to choose the new IC, and those judges chose the Republican attorney, Ken Starr. We all know the rest. The Constitution was designed around a concept of checks and balances. When those who make decisions and those who keep an eye on the decision-makers are all working towards the same goal, no matter what that goal might be, we lose discussion, we lose facts, we lose ideas. We lose our way.

We deserve better.

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