How do you spell inauguration, anyway?

I’m listening to a story on NPR right now about the inauguration of W., an event I will thankfully be missing because I teach today, and an event I find particularly depressing.

I don’t subscribe to the various conspiracy theories about the 2004 election that are out there. However, you don’t have to be a political nutjob to think there was some funny business with the last election. In the January 2005 edition of Harper’s Magazine, editor Lewis H. Lapham has a compelling “Notebook” essay about some of these things. Just to mention a few:

  • In one county in Ohio where there were only 638 registered voters, there were 4,258 votes for Bush.
  • The private company that processed about a third of the votes cast in the last election, Diebold, is run by very vocal right wingers.
  • In three states that relied mostly on paper ballots, the exit polls (the ones that had Kerry ahead– remember all of that stuff?) corresponded to the final tally. In six states that relied extensively on electronic ballots– including Ohio and Florida– the exit polls, which had favored Kerry, were oddly wrong. Bush won those states.

Check the piece out– interesting stuff, and not as crazy as the stuff on the ‘net.

Anyway, I am not much of a person to “protest” per se. I find rallies for various things like that kind of boring, and I have never made an effort to go to a state or national protest. But when I hear about the way that folks trying to protest this inauguration are being repressed in the name of “national security,” it makes me wish I had decided to find a way to D.C. today. I agree that there are legitimate security concerns– there always are. But not allowing protesters to have sticks to hold up signs and confining them to a small area has nothing to do with security and everyone knows it. Remember, Bush et al wanted people who attended their rallies during the election to sign loyalty oaths. Now these same people have essentially demanded a sort of loyalty oath by default from the tens of thousands of people lining the parade route, the tens of thousands of people attending a public event.

What loyalty oath will we be asked to sign next?

For me, there’s only one bright side to all this. With some confidence, I predict that Bush and the rest of the Republicans will either merely “over-reach” in some sort of political move (social security “reform” will be their first opportunity to do so), or they will out-and-out screw-up something that directly affects millions of Americans in a numbingly major way. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be– maybe the war, the economy, maybe some something about terrorism– but I do feel pretty confident that this over-reach or screw-up will happen.

Or let me put it to you this way: had 9/11 not happened, had there not been this rallying around Bush for the sake of national unity, there is no way we’d be celebrating/mourning the second inauguration of GW Bush. Unless we have another 9/11 sort of event (and obviously, nobody wants that), my prediction is W. will leave office in disgrace and hopefully take his Republican congress with him. Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but I prefer to think of it as a hopeful prediction.

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