Dubya was meth with a ketamine chaser delivered hammer-and-anvil directly to the lizard brain.
Dubya was 40 million Pig People tired of the hard, fussy job of being a tolerant, powerful democracy finally once-and-for-all blowing America’s family inheritance on an eight-year, blood-drunk bender.
Dubya was the United States crawling through dumpsters at our national soul’s midnight, killing anything that moves, licking out the contents of random baggies, hoping the little white flakes clinging to the plastic is crank and not rat poison, and waking up the next day -- that horrible, horrible sun-also-rises morning after -- broke and twitchy, arguing over what more they can sell off to keep the party going and who they can blame for their gone-to-shit lives.
But I disagree with him about the some of the details, and the details are important.
Does it all start with Reagan?
And in the Conservative Crack House of Many Doors, Ronald Reagan was that first cocktail. The first line of coke. The first needle. The first "Holy Mother of God!” WOWGASM that shotguns right through the blood/brain barrier, reformats your entire ethical hard drive, and scrimshaws a brand new Prime Directive on the inside of your skull.But I disagree. It's not Ronald Reagan but Ayn "I not only can but should have everything I want and to hell with anyone else" Rand who deserves the credit; Ronnie was just the first guy to market the drug to the masses.
I think his extension of the metaphor to the Clinton administration is more apt than even he intends.
[Clinton] arguably delivered to the wingnuts more of everything they ever said they wanted than anyone else. ...It's important to understand that maintenance isn't treatment. Driftglass calls November 4 "so much more than an election. November 4th is an Intervention." I think he's wrong. I think Obama will be very much like Clinton: he'll offer the right a celebrity's stint in rehab to take the edge of the worst downside of the addition, but he'll do nothing to address the fundamental problem.
[The right hated him because] Clinton was mere addiction maintenance delivered in measured doses under adult supervision: all policy-wonk that wasn’t cut with that industrial-waste-grade bigoted, psychotic bloodlust that gives Conservatism its wild, freebasing edge. Clinton was methadone, and for the hardcore lifestyle junkie, that shit is for babies.
Because the problem is not with right itself, and the right has in no way yet "hit bottom". The Democratic party and the American moderate liberals are just acting as codependents. "Tsk, tsk, look at the mess you've made of yourself. We'll clean you up, and get you presentable."
There's a great scene in Trainspotting, "The downside of coming off junk was I knew I would need to mix with my friends again in a state of full consciousness. It was awful. They reminded me so much of myself, I could hardly bear to look at them." I'm also reminded of a scene from the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers where they decide to stop doing drugs: the scene slowly transforms over a number of panels from the usual cartoon idealization to a photorealistic depiction of disgusting squalor; the brothers (wisely?) get stoned again and return to their cartoon utopia.
The point is: just cleaning up the worst downside of addiction is a feature of codependency; the codependent is doing neither himself nor the addict any favors. It's true: addiction really "reformats your entire ethical hard drive, and scrimshaws a brand new Prime Directive on the inside of your skull." Just mitigating the effects of the new Prime Directive isn't enough; the addict has to "find Jesus" (or Bill) and create yet another "Prime Directive".
Which is fundamentally why I do not see this election as fundamentally transformative. Sure, McCain will continue the bender, but Obama will just codependently clean up the immediate mess; after four or eight years of tedious sobriety the leaders of the American people will be ready for yet another bender.
The drug is, of course, capitalism, unlimited personal economic power unaccountable to the rest of society. It's not even the exercise of this power that's the drug, its the acquisition. The first hit comes with your first million, when you realize that you can now do anything you want and say, "fuck you" to most anyone who might object, without argument, without justification. And you want more: You want that second million to say "fuck you" to those who have just one million. Even when you have the most money of anyone, you still want more, because that's your prime directive: Get more. And besides, you'll never have more than everyone else put together, and the more you have, the bigger the target you are; what you have taken away from others can be taken away from you.
It is not enough to merely dole out this drug in measured doses. Clinton- and Obama-style "methadone capitalism" won't solve the problem. We have to create a new Prime Directive, one that doesn't lead inevitably to death and destruction.
We have to "find Karl".