A cynical dialogue

Could the tide be turning against George W. Bush?

It’s certainly tempting to think so, after Saturday night’s poll showed a majority of voters saying they wouldn’t vote for George Bush. The poll also showed John Kerry leading the Democratic primary in New Hampshire. Lordy, is it ever tempting to think optimistically and look ahead to a possible regime change here at home a year from now. It’s tempting to imagine someone other than Dubya Bush running things. It’s tempting to consider the possibility of getting some sane and rational economic and foreign policies in that Oval Office.

And the cynic in me whispers, “Yeah, right. Dream on, Joyce. The frothing bad-crazy-mad-dogs in charge of this administration will never let it happen. The spin-meisters are holding mass freakout sessions in the bunkers deep below the White House, hatching conspiracies to stifle that unpatriotic Democratic Party. What is that…a black helicopter going whup-whup-whup overhead?”

But we need to put away temptation. Tempting as it is to hope and dream that we may be seeing the first wave of change, it’s too early to do so. This is only January. Campaign 2004 has just barely begun, with one caucus down and the first primary election today. A lot can happen between now and the first Tuesday in November, especially with an administration like the current one in charge.

“Good girl,” the cynic mutters. “Let’s keep it down. Can’t have folks getting too excited about politics now, right? Stifle those dreamy impulses.”


Perhaps I’ve been shaped too deeply by the experiences of growing up during the Nixon administration. Perhaps I’ve seen too many odd and unfair applications of the Patriot Act, including the weird policies of local security guards when people are, to all appearances, taking innocuous pictures of various local installations. Perhaps I’m a bit too skittish about this Administration’s ruthlessness over internal opposition to its policies. I don’t know. I can see too much potential for presidential manipulation of the economy, foreign policy, and endless photo opportunities as Dubya embarks on a scrambling campaign to get his message out, in whatever way it takes to keep power. If I were a leader in North Korea, Syria or even Iran, I think I’d be watching the American political scene very closely right now and making nice noises to avoid a little “Wag the Dog” scenario.

“Getting a little edgy here, darlin’,” the cynic snarls. “What are you trying to do-go gonzo here? Reading too much Hunter Thompson on politics? Now this is getting way too paranoid. Keep it cool.”


Past experience with my fellow Democrats makes me worry. I have too many memories of the Democratic Party managing to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory by nominating someone who manages to blow a lead or self-destruct in the face of serious opposition. On the other hand, for the first time in ages, I looked at the final results coming out of Iowa, scratched my head, and muttered “I dunno…I could settle for any of the top three guys. What a concept. Candidates I could live with in the primary. Maybe even someone who could win the Big One.”

“Idealist,” the cynic sneers.

Yeah? Well, despite my friend the cynic, for once I can look at the top Democratic Party candidates and sit back calmly to wait for the campaign’s march to Oregon. There appears to be this faint thread of hope that this primary campaign might just unearth a semi-decent candidate with the hope of taking the battle to that accidental President in the White House and sending him back to Texas in January 2005. Maybe I am the fool my friend the cynic would call me, but, ladies and gentlemen, I get the faintest hint that there might just be a faint glimmer of hope in this here electoral process. But making it happen is not going to come easily.

Buckle up, folks. There’s a wild ride ahead.