I've been working on a novel set in ancient Rome, and it's hard not to think about the parallels these days. Are we living through the last days of the Republic? Are we already an Empire? Is the Senate nothing but a posturing mob of finger-pointing self-serving blowhards? (Yeah, like that could ever happen.)
After pondering the state of our so-called Democracy and going back and forth between "The inmates have taken over the asylum" and "This is all part of some evil long-range plan," the obvious (and depressing) conclusion is that we're being led by a crew of ignorant self-serving blowhards who claim to be speaking for the people and only listen to what pleases them.
But what if they're smarter than that? What if, gulp, they're really clever, and all this stupidity is actually part of some evil long-range plan? What would that plan look like?
So I challenged myself to come up with one -- an actual evil long-range plan which our current rulers have had in mind since the beginning of the Shrub Administration.
Sadly, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
It's a five-part plan:
Step 1. Mire us in a no-win foreign war that will still be going on when Bush leaves office. (Check.)
Step 2. Make a token effort to win the 2008 election, but do whatever you can to make sure a Democrat gets elected. (This is the most important step of all.)
Step 3. If the Democratic President pulls out of Iraq, call her weak. If she stays in Iraq and it only gets worse, call her ineffective. (This is a no-lose situation. No matter what happens in Iraq, Republicans will blame the Democrats for it.)
Step 4. Mount a rabidly pro-American anti-Democrat 2012 Presidential campaign. Ignore the fact that Bush got us into the war; repeat the assertion that the war is the Democrats' fault. (Given the current state of independent thought in the media, this lie will become a given in oh, about two weeks.)
Step 5. Interpret a Republican 2012 victory as a mandate for "winning the war on terrorism" and "getting the job done right," and pre-emptively attack Iran.
In essence, the long-term plan is to lose in '08, knowing that it will lead to the kind of write-your-own-ticket victory in 2012 that will (hopefully) destroy the Democratic party and put the country in the kind of permanent war state that Orwell imagined as satire in 1984.
The only potential monkey wrench is if there's a terrorist atack on US soil between now and the '08 election. Given the current cycle (1993: World Trade Center bombing; 2001: WTC destroyed), there's a better than even chance that we'll get hit again in '08 or '09. (These people think in the long term too.) If it happens after the election, then the sitting President gets blamed for it. If it happens before the election, then it only adds to the probability of an eventual Democratic Presidential win. So it's not really a monkey wrench at all; or if it is, it just tightens the screw.
And it's not hard to imagine, in an even worse version of a worst-case scenario, that our current leaders are actually counting on something awful happening as part of their long term plan.