He cast a stone, he felt secure, he thought that his voice would never be heard.
Freedom of choice is what you've got. Freedom from choice is what you want.
-- Devo/A Perfect Circle, Freedom Of Choice
In chronicling Ehud Olmert's precipitous post-conflict freefall, and imminent collapse of his coalition government, Wolcott compares Olmert's travails with those of The Decider:
That's true, and it's directly proportional to the degree of accountability to which the respective constituents are held. Israeli citizens simply cannot afford to be as ricockulously stupid and complacent as Americans. It's literally a matter of life and death to know who their representatives are, and vote accordingly. They cannot get away with knowing more about cartoon characters than who their policymakers are and what they stand for. It's that simple.
It's appalling to even think of trying to find any sort of silver lining in the wake of 9/11, but let's be honest -- it could have at least been an opportunity to start asking questions, getting answers, and addressing real "root causes", in the hope of finding actual solutions to imminent problems. But no. The party in power decided to politicize and stonewall at every opportunity, resorting to cheap traitor-baiting at the slightest hint of even principled opposition from the craven "opposition" party. And we didn't do one single thing to change the paradigm of being recklessly overdependent on a resource concentrated in regions that violently despise us.
Consequently, everything that has changed has changed significantly for the worse. The party in power has no excuses for its manifest failures of policy and principle, and yet it is still going to be a horse race for the opposition party to be able to back into any real victory. Indeed, even with Bush languishing at or below 40% approval for almost the entire year thus far, every policy in tragic disarray, and no proferred solution besides the shopworn refrain of staying the course, there has been no real momentum generated by the Democratic Party. The one exception, Ned Lamont's primary win over doormat incumbent Joe Lieberman, was almost immediately negated by Lamont taking a week off in Maine, while Lieberman instantly seized the opportunity and hit the ground running.
So while 9/11 has been portrayed as a true paradigm shift in America's sense of security, our actions have consistently belied that theory. This has been borne out by the practical ramifications of our choices. There's just no two ways about this. We can point the finger at feckless, lying leaders, and their sniveling enablers in the corporate media, but ultimately the fault lies with the 51% of fools who refused to acknowledge that they fucked up the first time with Bush, the weirdos who worry more about gay marriage and flag burning than anything else, the morons who can't bring themselves to turn off the TV and read a goddamned book once in a while.
And the accountability moment, like it or not, will come all the same, though perhaps not in a spasm of violence amidst mindless hysteria over mascara and bottled water. It will come in the form of foreclosures and higher unemployment, in the wake of a housing bubble that burst from a glut of construction and usurious financial speculation. It will come in the form of the central banks of ascendant Asian economies selling off American T-bills to bring the record current account deficits back to a more manageable level. It will come in the form of ignorant assholes clogging up our educational and political systems, spouting false populist nonsense while they line up at the public trough with the rest of the pigs.
Maybe at such a dismal point, Americans will start holding their politicians accountable the way Israelis do to their politicians. But as long as they are willing to let themselves be convinced by some interchangeable huckster that they can have their Hummers and flat-screens for just one more day, they'll continue to let a third-rate doofus like Bush walk all over the Constitution just as much as he pleases.