While perusing the emails I get from After Downing Street, I find a neat audio clip here. While listening, I get a sense of what people must have felt during the Sixties and Seventies. Those were turbulent time, a dark smudge on American history and politics, and people were frightened.
With all the media coverage of the recently uncovered Watergate mole, I find and interesting juxtaposition of two Republican administrations, that of Richard Nixon and this of George W. Bush. These, too, are dark, frightful times.
I’m sure that future historians, and those with us today, can draw many parallels between the two administrations. I can recall a vague sense of the pervasive emotional state of the adults around me, as I was too young to care overmuch. Then the counter-establishment argument was that politicians couldn’t be trusted; today we know our president, and his cadre of miscreants, lied repeatedly regarding Iraq’s capacity to inflict global harm via Weapons of Mass Destruction. Evidence is mounting supporting this. During the course of the last election cycle, this evidence was somehow swept under the proverbial rug, but now the dirt’s so voluminous the rug can’t hide it anymore.
During the Vietnam/Watergate era, I remember regular air raid drills during school. The American people were afraid enough to have their kids prostrate themselves in a vain and foolish pretence of safe conduct. Everyone knew this would save no one were the “big One” dropped on us. Today, the “Nukuler” threat is greater; more countries have weapons these days. Many of these Atomic Nations are quite nervous about perceived American Empirical motivations within our administration. We aren’t the only nation that has the capacity for pre-emption.
Watergate taught Americans all presidents are suspect. Richard Nixon’s admonitions on crookedness did nothing to stop his downfall. Today, we still feel the ghost of Watergate in our inability to trust our officials at any level. BushCo is worsening our distrust. It will take many good, hardworking presidents to overcome the specter of WMD. To rebuild America’s stature in the world will take generations. To reconstruct our core ideals and lay them in the forefront of our policies will take decades. To repair the damaged lived of the thousands of people affected by our foreign policies is impossible.
It is much simpler to tear down and destroy than to build up and create. The political monolith that is America took centuries of hard work and thousands of brave lives to create. In many ways this imperfect shell of a socio-political ideal is unfinished, roughed-in, very much a work in progress. The whole construct is still fragile; we must take care to hire the best artisans for the building. One mistake, and the whole edifice may crumble. In light of this, perhaps there’s a greater, far older historical ghost we need to fear: Rome.