An Embarrassing Display of Riches
WASHINGTON, D.C.Hiding like some huge animal in a cage of steel, Bush and his red state cadres are getting down to serious partyingat $2,500 a headamid a gathering snowstorm that promises to further agitate the already exasperated citizenry which has been banned from the Bush 100-block green zone.
People are either staying home or rushing to get out of the way before guarded convoys of the rich and super rich start flitting about the city to their pre-inaugural balls. Since the streets are being shut off and the city closed down this afternoon, there is the making of a huge traffic jam.
The inauguration is an exclusive affair and hasn't got anything to do with the ordinary people, which is just as well since it is an embarrassing display of riches and makes America look like it is run by a bunch of rich fools.
Going back to the Second World War, Washington has never looked like this, nor have its people been treated like this. During WWII,the city was full of soldiers and sailors. Everyday life was governed by nightly blackouts; air raid wardens patrolled every block. But never under FDR or Truman was there the feeling of fear and anxiety that Bush has created. And never has the capital been so alienated from its leadersnot under FDR or Truman or Eisenhower. Jack Kennedy was open and embracing. At his funeral, an outpouring of world leaders and ordinary people mingled together in the streets.
To top off the celebratory balls there's Condoleeza Rice, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. While the mainstream U.S. press played up what they took to be Rice's conciliatory approach to world affairs, the foreign media, such as the BBC, saw her statements as an ominous signa possible replay of Bush's original axis of evil which brought us Iraq. With Seymour Hersh's recent report of American commandos scouting targets in Iran and elsewhere, could it be possible that Bush's neo-con inner circle is getting ready to repeat Iraq somewhere else in the world?
"We must use American diplomacy to help create a balance of power in the world that favors freedom," Rice told the committee yesterday,adding, "The time for diplomacy is now."
That statement might be taken as a doff of the hat to Reagan's aging inner circle who have been vociferous in attacking Bush's unilateralism and demanding diplomatic initiatives, not more gunboats.
But having said that, Rice reverted to business as usual, telling the Senators, "To be sure, in our world, there remain outposts of tyranny, and America stands with oppressed people on every continent, in Cuba and Burma, and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe." This is Bush's old "axis of evil" minus Iraq, which Bush thinks he has liberated.
The new axis of evil, in thumbnail sketch with the help of the BBC:
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.