JOHN OSTRANDER: America, George Bush and … Marvel Comics?
I received an urgent, earnest e-mail asking me to sign a petition expressing my indignation at how the Democrats went belly-up once more to the White House bullying tactics and passed the Security Bill which limits our freedoms just so they won’t appear weak on security in the next election.
Sorry, gang, but the indignation ain’t in me this round.
It’s not that I don’t feel that the legislation isn’t an assault on our liberties or that is unnecessary and useless; I do. I just don’t think the Dems can be shamed into changing their vote at this point. Despite their pre-election rhetoric before the elections in ’06, they haven’t voted to end the war in Iraq or cut off the funding for it because they are more concerned about maintaining and widening their control in Congress and gaining the White House as well. That, more than anything else, is their real objective.
Same as anyone else in politics.
It’s turned into the political Catch-22. To do anything, you must gain power. To continue to have the ability to do anything, you must maintain power. Actually do anything and you risk losing power. So instead we get smoke, mirrors, theatrics, and power plays. That’s on both sides of the aisle.
The Bush Administration has, at least, understood the concept of using the power accrued; they’ve just made a terrible hash of it. Can we all agree that the WMDS were always an excuse, that 9/11 had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein, and that the Bushies knew it, know it, and didn’t and don’t care? The real basic premise of the Bush Neo-Cons was to get rid of a murderous dictator that even the other Arabs didn’t much care for and, in his place, create a functioning democracy that, by its success and example, would begin to change the face of the Mideast. 9/11 simply offered a justification. All in all, it was a seemingly laudable goal but it was attempted by a crew that didn’t know the language, didn’t know the culture or the people, and couldn’t be bothered to learn. There was no contingency planning. It was a perfect storm of arrogance and ignorance.
I’ve seen that kind of mixture before, on a much lesser scale, when Ron Perelman bought Marvel in 1989. With him came business types who were going to apply sound business theory to Marvel. Comic books were just another set of widgets and they would apply their Universal Business theories to make Marvel a combination of Disney and McDonald’s. (I’m not exaggerating or making this up; that’s what I was told by a Marvel insider at the time.) They took a company that had maybe 70% or more of a strong market and then bankrupted the company while nearly destroying the market. Again, a combination of arrogance and ignorance. Perelman and his people knew everything; they didn’t ask for the advice of people in the industry. They already knew better. Except they didn’t. They made choices that made everyone in the industry who did know something about how it was run start scratching their heads.
Marvel’s fortunes didn’t change or improve until Perelman and his folks were gone; things in Iraq aren’t going to much change or improve until Bush and his administration is gone. Bush won’t let go because then he will be the one that history holds responsible. Better to let the next guy (or gal) coming in to have to deal with the mess and take the ultimate blame.
Iraq is fragmented and involved in a civil war…excuse me, sectarian strife. The incoming Head of the Joint Chiefs says Iraq is not militarily winnable. To keep the American troop levels there as they are now for the length of time needed can’t, according to experts, be accomplished without instituting a military draft. That’s a political third rail and no politician is going to do that. It’s just a scant 14 months to elections. Are you crazy?
One of the problems is that Iraq isn’t really a country. It’s three regions that were kept together in recent decades by a murderous strongman. Senator Joe Biden has argued that it should be turned into three districts with a loose center to distribute the oil revenue and such. Sounds good, but I have my doubts on that as well. First of all, I’m not certain if anyone asked the Iraquis if that’s what they want or are willing to do. Second, I’m not sure it can be maintained. Turkey is not keen on an independent Kurdistan near its borders. Iran’s already meddling in Iraq so why not just take the part that is already allied with it? I think you wind up, at best, with a weak state that can’t be maintained and once our military leave, you won’t be able to send them back without a genuine revolt from the American electorate. Once out we’ll just stay out of it.
So what’s going happen next? I don’t know but I can tell you what I fear is going to happen. For the rest of the Bush Administration, our military will be in Iraq. There won’t be a political solution because the Iraqi government is too divided to create one. In the long run, I think you’ll see an Islamic government run by the mullahs and clerics.
So – who’s to blame for all this?
The first and most obvious choice is the Cheney Administration – sorry, the Bush Administration. Their stupid plan, their rotten execution, their stubborn unwillingness to face up to the truth and make it right.
The Republican Party also gets high marks. It used to be that the Republicans could be counted on for some fiscal sanity and an unwillingness to get into foreign entanglements. Not no more. They let their party get hi-jacked by Right Wing Jackasses. Same for the Conservatives. Bush and Company aren’t really Conservative or Republican but were embraced by both because, frankly, they were in power and Republicans and Conservatives were both hungry to have someone from their political philosophy in the White House. They let themselves get bamboozled.
Bush’s Administration made the media into their whipping boy; they kicked their asses and the media went belly up in surrender. “Access” is their lifeblood – their power – and they were afraid of being denied it so they published the lies right along with the truth in an effort to be “balanced.” That’s not being “fair,” that’s being complicit. Yes, there are exceptions and they’re notable because they are exceptions. The media only really got back to their jobs as Bush’s approval ratings fell and they felt they could do so without too much danger.
Let’s not forget dem Dems. I was born and raised a Republican but, almost as soon as I could vote, I became a Democrat. I was in Chicago where the Republican Party is just a rumor and I figured out the only mayoral election that meant anything was the Democratic Primary. So I became a Democrat. Over the years, I find my values are more likely to be found there than with the Republicans but I’m as ready to vote for an obscure party if I can’t find anything I like with the Dems.
The Dems lost control of the Congress and then lost the White House and that’s because, in my eye, they’re lazy. They didn’t think Bush could beat Gore (and maybe he didn’t). They assumed that anyone could beat him for his second term by virtue of Not Being Bush and so they nominated Kerry. They take things for granted.
Nor am I taken with any of their candidates for next year’s presidential race. Hillary Clinton – when did our two party system become a two family system? For the past twenty years the President has been named either Bush or Clinton. I’m also not certain she’s electable – I come from the Midwest and I’ve talked to a lot of people there and they just plain don’t like her. At the least, she’s a polarizing figure. Barack Obama – like him but not enough experience. OTOH, the legendary JFK wasn’t all that seasoned, either, when he ran for President. The one I like most, I think, is Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico. He’s had world political experience under a previous administration and he’s had executive experience as governor. But I don’t think he’ll get within a stone’s throw of the Democratic Nomination.
My concern would be that, once again, the Dems are making the fatal mistake of assuming that whomever they nominate will win (sort of like the Chicago mayoral primary, now that I think about it) except for the Republican field of Presidential nominees. Rudolph Guiliani is leading the pack right now? Cross dressing, thrice married Rudy is going to get the Republican votes out? Well, maybe – if his opponent is Hillary Clinton. Do not underestimate how deep some voters hate Hillary.
The most interesting Republican candidate right now is Ron Paul and, while I like watching him, I don’t want him in the White House. I respect his convictions and his honesty but I don’t share his views. I know there are some waiting for Fred Thompson to enter the field. Eh – Ronald Reagan Light, I says.
Since I am playing the Blame Game as to how we wound up where we are in Iraq and other places, I’m going to add one more to the list.
We, the People.
First three words in the Preamble to the Constitution. It’s where the responsibility lies. You didn’t vote for Bush? Neither did I. We, the People are a group and not any one individual. You say he stole the first election and possibly the second? It shouldn’t have been that close either time.
Somehow, people let themselves be sold on the idea that he was this plain speaking Texas hombre, reg’lar folks like most others. That he was the Common Man. He isn’t and he never was. Harry Truman was. George W. Bush is the rich son of a rich father; he went to Yale because his family went to Yale. The family estate is up in New England. His sympathies are with oilmen because he’s been an oilman. He clears brush to relax – not because he’s a working rancher. He is not and never has been one of us unless you, gentle reader, are in the upper 2% income bracket which, I think, we can all agree is unlikely. Bush is one of them. Always has been. But enough of We, the People, allowed ourselves to be fooled into thinking he was like us.
I’m not exempting myself from this list, either. I didn’t exert myself in either election very much although I did bother to vote. I haven’t campaigned for anyone. I’ve groused in columns like this but, really, not much more. If I’m arguing for responsibility, ultimately I have to look at my own.
Hmmmm. Maybe I’ll go back and look at that petition again. At the very least, I like to keep my griping rights alive.
Writer / actor / playwright John Ostrander is man behind the typewriter at such vaunted comics as GrimJack, Suicide Squad, Star Wars: Legacy, Munden’s Bar and Batman. His own personal blog is at http://www.comicscommunity.com/boards/ostrander/.