Sunday, April 20, 2008

Carts and horses

Juan Cole says something like what I've been saying for a little more than two years:

In other words, elect McCain, my friends, and you are summoning the awful genie of another 9/11. I said it. I mean it. I'm not taking it back. That man's announced policies could well produce a blowback that will lead to the end of democracy in the United States. It is a momentous decision.

But the problem is McCain, just like Bush before him, is a symptom, not the disease itself. Beat McCain and a majority of Republicans will still consider Rush Limbaugh more credible than Walter Cronkite; beat McCain and Bill Kristol will still have his column at the NYT (or some other outlet) where he gets to demand, weekly, we make war on some Middle Eastern country or another; beat McCain and there will still be that vocal group of Americans who believe there are powerful forces in the world determined that women in the United States wear burqas and be stoned to death for infidelity; beat McCain and we will still have a corrupt, lazy, cowardly, and overmatched press corps. Take away all of these things and McCain, as we know him, would not exist. Take away these things and Bush would never have gotten into office. Take away these things and, even with Bush in office, we wouldn't be in Iraq right now. But these things do exist; McCain is what he now is; Bush is in office; and we are in Iraq.

It's possible that, as a result of the upcoming war against McCain and his subsequent defeat (not a sure thing), the Republicans realize they have to put a muzzle on some of their more extremist elements, much as the Dems did after 1972. But in any case, it's those elements, not the candidacy of McCain itself, that collectively are the problem, and even in electoral defeat they aren't going away. We have structural problems with our democracy, and they need to be addressed.