Watching/hearing clips from the Alberto Gonzalez hearings, plus the circus of the formal selection of the President in the Congress, I’m struck by the pathetic awfulness of our situation.
And then, when I thought about it, I had the faint, creeping and totally unmistakable conviction that we have gone too far. That our society has been corrupted so deeply and thoroughly that there will be no return to normal.
I can’t find the transcripts, but I heard an exchange with between Senator Spector of Pa. and Alberto. Senator Spector lobbed a softball: Are you against the kind of torture we saw depicted in the widely publicized Abu Greib pictures?
Now, the only correct answer to this questions is yes, of course. But that wasn’t Alberto’s answer. First, he responded that as a human being, he reacted with shock and horror to what was depicted in those infamous photos. And then he unwittingly revealed everything you need to know about this guy.
He said “but.” “But.” As in "in contradistinction to what I've just said."
But, he said, as someone who might be involved with the ongoing criminal investigation of the individual acts depicted, he thought it best if he did not condemn the acts. He thought it best for the legal processes against the people involved to run their due course.
So pretty cheesy-weasely, right? You bet.
Senator Spector then came to the rescue (presumably his job). He thanked Alberto, then went on to what started out as a chastisement: Sen. Spector said he had some experience as a prosecutor, and that in his judgment a prosecutor could condemn something without expressing a view as to whether or not something was criminal or not.
So, I thought, Senator Spector seems to be calling Alberto on his complete lack of candor and courage.
Not so fast. Sen. Spector then went to to say that in light of that, he was going to thank Alberto for his strong condemnation of the acts depicted.
Which Alberto had carefully not given. But which Sen. Spector pretended happened, right there, in front of all the TV cameras, senators, the world and God, pretended that Alberto hadn’t weaseled, had forthrightly and unequivocally condemned those acts.
It was when I heard this that I thought that we may have allowed things to get so far gone that there will be no return. (Yikes!) Sen. Spector figured he would just brazenly lie in front of everyone, and that no one would call him on it. Not only was he so divorced from his own conscience that he would be happy to lie, he knew his people so dominated the media that the men and women in the room would go along with it.
The checks and balances of our system are only as good as the men and women who operate them. If the people running our government, our businesses, our schools – hell, just the ordinary men and women of our society – are so corrupt that we no longer mind when the government lies to us, or are pretty much OK when companies scheme and deceive their way into the market, well, I’m not sure I see the way forward. Our government will only ever be as good as we are. If we are corrupt, so too will our government be. And more and more, it seems to me that we are terribly corrupt.
Are Canadians as bad as we are? Can we find salvation in the North? Is there any refuge for those of us who want to live in a society where we value community? Value intelligence, reason and analysis? Who abhor the hatred and violence that the US is coming to represent?