Sending a message


Thursday, January 31
It may be a purely symbolic gesture, but the upcoming Town Meeting vote on whether Brattleboro should indict President Bush and Vice President Cheney certainly raised the ire of conservatives all over the country.

The Municipal Center was swamped this week with nasty phone calls and e-mails, many containing language unprintable in this newspaper.

The level of rage from those who still believe that President Bush can do no wrong is astounding to behold. But while we're surprised there are still that many people in America who support Bush, we understand their rage.

Put yourself in the shoes of a diehard Bush supporter. You believed President Bush would avenge the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but Osama bin Laden has never been captured and Afghanistan remains a safe haven for al-Qaida.

You believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq posed a grave threat to America, but the WMDs turned out to have never existed and all the rationales for war turned out to be lies (see www. for a fully searchable database of hundreds of false statements issued by the Bush administration in the two years after 9/11).

You believed him when President Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, below a banner that read "Mission Accomplished," and proclaimed that major combat operations in Iraq were over. Now, nearly 4,000 Americans and about 1 million Iraqis have died in a conflict that was only supposed to last a few weeks and now is about to enter its sixth year.

You believed that President Bush would create a leaner, more efficient government, yet the size of the federal government has expanded and the federal budget surplus he inherited in 2001 is now a $9 trillion deficit.

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You believed America would remain the unquestioned No. 1 superpower in the world. Now we're the No. 1 debtor nation, the dollar is weaker than it has been in decades and our influence on world affairs shrinks by the day.

In the face of all this, some little pipsqueak town in Vermont dares to call your president a war criminal and calls for his indictment and arrest.

We feel your pain. The man you believed was destined for greatness is now headed for the dustbin of history. Future historians will rate George W. Bush as the worst president ever. And the last remnants of the conservative majority you thought would last for decades will likely be swept away in November's election.

We fully realize that there is absolutely no chance that Brattleboro will indict and arrest Bush and Cheney. But three years ago, impeachment seemed like a crazy idea, too.

Conservatives laughed at Vermont in 2005 when Town Meeting voters around the state approved resolutions calling for Bush's impeachment. Now, the intransigence of the Democratic Party leadership in Congress is all that's preventing impeachment from taking place.

Nobody likes to be on the wrong side of history. That's why we have a certain amount of sympathy for the people who are attacking this town from the safety of their computer keyboards. Everything they believed in has been betrayed by an administration that exploited their trust.

Watching these people reminds us of the late psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' famous "Five Stages of Grief." They haven't really dealt with the first stage, denial and isolation ("Is Bush really that bad? It can't be.") Judging from the e-mails we've seen, they're very deep into the second stage, anger. They're entering the third stage, bargaining ("Maybe if we can find a real conservative like Ronald Reagan, everything will be better.") Stage four, depression, may be starting to sink in as they see that their presidential choices for 2008 are John McCain or Mitt Romney.

We're not sure if they will get to the final stage, acceptance ("Maybe John McCain isn't really that bad, after all.") We hope they do, eventually. If we as a nation are to eventually recover from the long nightmare that has been the Bush presidency, we'll need the support of those angry letter writers.


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