Rollo Tomassi for President

In normal times you can read Heart of Darkness or watch Chinatown and still drift off to sleep that night, but it’s harder to take things in stride when events suggest that Conrad and Polanski were more right than they knew, and that God really is an aloof, disinterested beast who’s busy clipping his toenails as the most decent and beautiful aspects of humanity get run into the ground. It’s galling enough that an Antichrist like Dick Cheney could lead the life he has up to now without ever seeing the inside of a prison cell, or that an unreconstructed simian like George Bush could smirk and shrug his way into the White House on the strength of some witless bromides, but I could accept even that if they’d just stop now – if they’d retire to some comfortable, soulless hell of their choosing and just leave the rest of us to pick up the pieces of everything they’ve broken.

But as Conrad says, “The heavens do not fall for such a trifle.” Far from being punished in any way (and here I’ll let the reader indulge his own revenge fantasies; my own involve Cheney wearing an orange jumpsuit and sitting on the floor in front of five armed, masked men, one of whom is reading a statement in Arabic), the country is actually poised to reward these bastards for their efforts. And though it’s hard to believe this election could have a more important issue than Iraq, the perverted alarmist logic that’s driven every national Republican campaign since ’64 has taken another step downward and turned our political discourse into a flat-out anti-gravity house. Today the documented draft-dodger is considered more patriotic than the man who volunteered for hazardous duty, and when called on his blatant use of the basest scare tactics Cheney merely rearranges his words without taking them back, and does so with impunity. If these guys can win after this administration and after this campaign – and they are going to win – then there’s no safety-net left, no line in the sand a candidate dare not cross. Everything’s open – preemptive wars and stonewalling and all the sort of official lies that used to get corrupt pols tarred and feathered in this country.

I haven’t been keeping this blog very long and someone just chancing across it must wonder if this guy’s always so bitter and down. The answer: “Nah.” When Bush was elected I thought that checks and balances and the fundamental decency of the American voter – I’m at least trying to say that phrase with a straight face – would keep him in line. In the days after 9/11 I was encouraged by the amount of lip-service he paid to discouraging reactionary bigotry against Muslims, figuring he must care something about the issue if he was paying that much attention to it. When he talked about the “Axis of Evil” I went around telling everyone that it was soundbite stuff, that there was simply no way he’d ever invade Iraq. And even when he did invade Iraq, I still figured the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein than with him. As the election unfolds I hope to continue my fine tradition of being wrong about every damn thing in the world, but something tells me this time that I – along with Conrad and Polanski – have got it just right.

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