Steven G. Brant
Gonzales is Gone, But the Disease Remains
At the conclusion of "The House Lawyer Departs," its lead editorial on the subject, The New York Times says, "Mr. Gonzales, for all of his undeniable deficiencies, merely reflected the principles of this administration. His resignation is a necessary but hardly sufficient step in restoring the nation's commitment to the rule of law."
Contrast this with the words of President Bush, who -- when he went before the cameras to report Attorney General Gonzales's resignation -- said "Al Gonzales is a man of integrity, decency and principle. And I have reluctantly accepted his resignation, with great appreciation for the service that he has provided for our country....After months of unfair treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position, and I accept his decision. It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."
The Rule of Law vs. The Rule of Bush. It doesn't get any clearer than that, folks. President Bush's world remains untouched, unfazed, and undisturbed by the very bipartisan "mud" through which his friend's name was dragged. All that counts are Bush's feelings. Facts? Bush doesn't care about facts.
Having said this, I hope it's clear to you all that we should not really celebrate Gonzales' departure. Why? Because we are dealing with a problem far more pervasive than the work of any one man... far worse than the work, even, of a team led by Bush, Cheney, and Rice... worse, even, than the cancer on the presidency that America cured itself of over 30 years ago.
We are dealing with a systemic condition within our country. For lack of a better term (and with apologies to Walt Disney), I will call it "Living In Fantasyland".
It is a condition that exists in ways big and small throughout our society. From the Enron Fantasyland of Ken Lay...to the "dog-fighting as sport" Fantasyland of the Atlanta Falcons' Michael Vick... from the "I spent as much time as the rescue workers" Fantasyland of Rudy Giuliani... to the "I was lied to by President Bush" Fantasyland of Hillary Clinton (who chose not to read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq before her vote).
People we want to trust -- with our money, our cheers, the future of our country -- are just making stuff up as they go along. Facts? They don't care about facts!
As I said, the cancer on the presidency of Richard Nixon was of limited scope. We were able to contain and eliminate it. And the 93rd Congress -- contrary to popular opinion -- actually got a lot done while it conducted Nixon's impeachment hearings.
But a lot has happened to the American psyche since the 1970s. The "Greed is good" me generation of the 1980s (and the updated version brought to us by the current Bush administration and today's Wall Street) along with the pervasive "you create your own reality" transformational technology personal development trainings (such as est and Landmark Education created by Werner Erhard) launched in the early 1970s are just two of the major cultural trends steering America towards a "You can have it your way no matter what the existing reality tells you is possible" mental belief system.
We know this is how George Bush and his team think, from Ron Suskind's amazing Octboer 17, 2004 article in The New York Times. But what not enough of us seem to realize is that this is a society-wide disease. Al Gore knows the magnitude of this problem. It's the subject of his book The Assault on Reason.
So, what to do? How can truth and facts defend themselves in the face of this very virulent disease? Well, here's my suggestion:
Truth and facts can become known for being about more than what the real bad stuff is. Truth and facts can become know for showing us -- all of us -- the real... honest to God... exciting and adventurous road forward. If I told you that the true nature of what's possible is quite literally "Heaven on Earth," that would get your attention... wouldn't it?
Yes, there are truths and facts about Ken Lay's business dealings, Michael Vicks' leisure activities, and Rudy and Hillary's post-9/11 political calculations. But there are also truths and facts about how much better our world could be, especially if the majority of Americans were to learn what certain research scientists and international development theorists know. And what is there that we all could learn from them?
That it is now scientifically possible to build -- with the support of enlightened business and political leadership, of course -- a world beyond war in our lifetimes!
Now that's something that no pack of lies can give us, no matter how well packaged they are. A world beyond war in our lifetimes can only be the product of the truth.
This brave new world -- if we choose to build it -- will be built on the facts, research, and hard won wisdom of those on the front lines of the sustainable international development movement. For proof that these facts exist, I invite you to explore the work of Amory Lovins, Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart, Business for Social Responsibility, The UN Global Compact, and The Next Great Transformation conference taking place at The Eden Project in October.
There's more to truth and facts than most people know. It can be a great world in which to spend your time... and it's no Fantasyland, either!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007