We were right about Bush; now whatSteve Hammer

Nov. 2 marks the one-year anniversary of George W. Bush's alleged victory over Sen. John F. Kerry in the 2004 election. Twelve months later, the White House finds itself under attack from both conservatives and liberals. The president's legislative agenda has been abandoned; his aides are under investigation; and even his most loyal supporters questioned his selection of Harriet Miers as Supreme Court justice.

Meanwhile, the level of human suffering at home and abroad is at its highest in decades, if not centuries. The credibility of the United States abroad is non-existent. Entire communities have been destroyed by natural disasters, setting off the biggest American dislocation since the Civil War.

Other areas have been decimated economically, as the nation continues to borrow more and more money from overseas to finance the dual wars on terrorism and prosperity Bush has launched.

The level of discourse in the nation is harsher and more bitter than ever before, in part because of the administration's no-compromise policy. Our media are increasingly controlled by a few superpowerful, archconservative corporations. Dissent is rarely covered - and when voices do speak out, they're quickly silenced by their corporate overlords, who are fearful of governmental backlash.

In short, this is everything we'd predicted would happen. Bush's critics have been vindicated. His devotion to corporate interests and his far-right base outweigh his loyalty to the nation.

His aides have been exposed as the most brutal players of hardball, cut-and-burn politics since Richard Nixon. They've shown themselves to be unafraid to break the law to achieve their means.

So why don't we liberals feel better? After all, this president is fully without credibility at home and abroad. Every statement made in the last campaign, every dire prediction, has come true.

We don't feel better because we saw it coming. We're suffering under the same yoke that the conservatives are. Kanye West was half right, as it turns out. George Bush doesn't care about any people, save the evangelical right and the oil industry.

Let's move back a year in time to Election Day 2004. It was a great day. Record turnouts were reported everywhere. The lines of people waiting to vote in Florida weren't oil millionaires; they were angry, disaffected people who couldn't wait to vote out Bush.

The story was the same in Ohio and other key states. Everyone I knew was full of exuberance and optimism. Change was about to come and the nation was about to be saved. Once again, America would be safe at home and respected abroad. The politics of fear and hatred would be dealt a harsh setback.

The exit polling pointed to a Kerry victory, too, in Ohio and elsewhere. There were just too many key indicators headed his way. It was a lock. Even Rush Limbaugh sounded scared on the radio that day.

So what happened? Just as in 2000, we may never know who was the true victor in the election. The official result may or may not have been valid. In areas with computer voting, Bush won. In areas with traditional voting machines and paper ballots, Kerry won.

I think it means that the people voted for Kerry and the computers voted for Bush. Either way, it was a crushing blow to freedom around the globe and set the stage for where we are today.

Bush has 39 months left in office, barring his resignation or impeachment. Even in his crippled state, he's capable of even more ferocious assaults on freedom at home and abroad. Reports of Bush anxiously walking the halls of the White House, talking to the portraits on the wall and vowing vengeance on his enemies are not encouraging.

It's as if we're going to get three and a half years of Watergate-era Nixon: pure anger, venom and greed. Now that even his backers have proven disloyal, he's going to punish us all as traitors and un-American.

Make no mistake: The defeat of Harriet Miers was not a victory for the left. It was a concession from the White House to the moderate and centrist people. They won't make that mistake twice. Expect Pat Robertson to be the next Supreme Court justice.

There are other troubling signs on the horizon. White supremacist groups are finding a more receptive audience, encouraged in part by this White House's refusal to squarely address issues of class, race and poverty. With the collapse of the president's conservative base comes the possible re-emergence of the anti-government militia groups of the 1990s.

Polling data released last week shows that 70 percent of Americans want the next president to be radically different than the current one. This is an opportunity to move towards the future and develop a united country.

For all of his faults, Bill Clinton always put people first. He compromised with Republicans and Democrats both, even as he was being put on trial for impeachment. He knew he had a job to do and did it. The result was a booming economy, a growing sense of middle- and lower-class empowerment and the lowest crime rate in generations.

In contrast, this administration has offered us misery, war, entitlements for the rich and a defiant inability to forge compromise. In return, we've gotten 2,000 dead Americans in Iraq, record deficits, indictments and possible jail terms for his associates. Oh yeah. He sent us all a $300 check when he took office.

That's small payment for the suffering we're facing, and it pales in comparison with the riches his allies have gotten, but it's better than nothing.

We just need to make sure that we're ready for 2008 or we risk even greater catastrophe. We can't afford to get swindled a third time.

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