The Country is Almost Back to Normal

I watched Meet the Press on Sunday and I saw a welcome sight - reporters doing their job. Asking tough questions of people in power, holding our government accountable, and then (gasp) having an honest dialogue with no nonsensical demagoguing.

It's amazing how paper thin the administration's answers are when they're actually challenged. Condoleezza Rice looked down right desperate. It was so frustrating to so many of us that it took Tim Russert three years to ask the relevant questions about Iraq. But, alas, it has happened. And the administration response is awful.

Russert asked how we could believe anything the Bush team says when every one of their promises from "the WMD threat" to "being greeted as liberators" proved to be exactly wrong. There is no good answer to that. Rice had to fall back on -- we're making progress. In some ways, it was painful to watch.

This is why I am encouraged. No one believes them anymore. Their spin has become tired, transparent and pathetic. It's almost as if the psychiatrist has snapped his fingers, and the country has woken up. The spell is broken.

Now, perhaps they can even challenge the President. To this day, President Bush says absolutely absurd things like: We realized on September 11th the oceans can no longer protect us. No, we realized that on December 7th ... 1941!

Using that as a rational to attack Iraq is mystifying. How have they let him get away with saying such absurdities for so long? For the love of God, ask the man if he really thought the warring sects of Iraq -- the Sunnis and Shiites -- were going to attack us over here, if we did not attack them over there. He is a paper tiger with a nearly non-existent intellect. Somebody bring the man down already, he is an embarrassment.

Yes, we were frustrated that it took so long for the press to go back to doing their jobs and for most Americans to realize the web of lies this government was weaving. But in the end (or near the end), I am proud of the American people. They got it.

All the propaganda and the intimidation didn't work. In the end, we saw reality.

Now, there are articles about how the Republicans are on the run and how the poll numbers for Republican Congressmen look disastrous. The party is being split apart on Iraq, immigration and so many other issues. This house is wobbling and it looks like it's about to come down.

There is still plenty of work to be done. The average voter has to understand that their Republican Congressman was complicit in this awful record the White House has amassed. They helped, supported and protected the incompetencies of this administration. They were the enablers. They didn't do their job. They cared more about their political party than their country. There must be a price to pay.

The people who can make them pay that price are the same people responsible for this turn around. I know it seems corny to say that all the credit goes to the American people - but it does. Let me explain.

A lot of us worked really hard to get people to realize all of the things that this government was doing wrong. We tried to wake the mainstream press up. We tried to get the Democratic representatives to represent us. We tried to check the Republicans. And in the end, I am not at all convinced we succeeded.

The press flipped when it became clear that Bush"s approval rating was not going to go back up and that it was an abysmal 34%. That was a watershed moment. It was almost as if someone splashed a bucket of ice water on their face and snapped them out of their trance. The Republican spin machine had been telling them for so long that the American people love George Bush and his folksy ways. That's why it took them about a dozen polls before it stuck -- no, they don't!

I adamantly believe that if it weren't for those polls, the major figures in the mainstream media would have continued on the same course. Now, they'll walk around the block strutting their stuff, asking tough questions and feeling proud. But they would have never done it if they weren't emboldened by the numbers.

So, I'm not sure any left wing pundits broke through the clutter and I'm certain the mainstream media wouldn't have gone in this direction if they weren't nudged - no, pushed - by the American people.

It just feels good to be back in a sane world, where what Bush says doesn't make any sense, where Iraq is a disaster, where the press does check the government and where citizens do demand accountability. It's morning in America again.

If this keeps up, the press and the Democrats -- and even the Republicans are who are now scared witless of losing their seats - might demand that the President follow the rule of law. I know it seemed a distant hope before, but I see the light at the end of this very long tunnel.

Of course, that light can get snuffed out if the Republicans manage to hold on to a slim majority in both houses of Congress. All this progress can be lost if people get complacent again, thinking that the problem is solved. We have to finish the job. We have to make sure the people who led us astray are not allowed to do it again. We have to take this government back for the sane and the responsible.

If the American people stand up and change leadership, even with all of the structural advantages built in to the system for incumbents, they are going to prove themselves worthy of our great democratic tradition. When asked what kind of government we had at the end of the Constitutional Convention, Ben Franklin is reported to have said, "A republic, if you can keep it."

For the first time in a long time, I am hopeful that we were up his challenge.