Thompson on Bush

 {mosimage}I have been thinking about posting this selection from Hunter
Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in the Bunker,” published in The New York
Times in 1974, for some time but couldn’t really decide on a good
context in which to do so. With Bush’s recent transgression of the line
between the day to day self-serving back-scratching that constitutes
most of national politics, to outright nepotistic hand jobs, I think I
have found an appropriate backdrop. It would be easy enough to do a few
posts just on the prophetic nature of this piece, the fact that the
similarities between Bush and Nixon indicate systemic political
problems rather than anything having to do with particular individuals,
or even to take Thompson up on the democracy question. What I find most
relevant, however, is not only the lack of difference between Nixon and
Humphrey specifically, but the seeming lack of any potential for
upcoming political change (even if a democrat is elected).

One must
move beyond the question of reconciling a time when political apathy is
not safe and the lack of possibilities for change that present
themselves. Perhaps the only section of this piece that requires some
modification is the Final Solution. Obviously the US is making a
totalitarian move on Middle Eastern oil, but the political situation
with Russia and China can be easily incorporated as well when we
consider that both have been reasonably well brought into line with the
secular-capitalist world order (Russia maintaining its upper had with
membership in the G8 Despite China’s massive, and growing, economy). I
realize that this is all a bit lengthy, but perhaps a good balance to
the ADD-esque nature of most blogs in general.

“Richard Nixon is living in the White House today because of what
happened that night in Chicago. Hubert Humphrey lost that election by a
handful of votes–mine among them–and if I had to do it again I would
still vote for Dick Gregory.
    If nothing else, I take a certain pride in knowing
that I helped spare the nation eight years of President Humphrey–an
Administration that would have been equally corrupt and wrongheaded as
Richard Nixon’s, far more devious, and probably just competent enough
to keep the ship of state from sinking until 1976. Then with the boiler
about to explode from eight years of blather and neglect, Humphrey’s
cold-war liberals could have fled down the ratlines and left the
disaster to whoever inherited it.
    Nixon, at least, was blessed with a mixture of
arrogance and stupidity that caused him to blow the boilers almost
immediately after taking command. By bringing in hundreds of thugs,
fixers, and fascists to run the Government, he was able to crank almost
every problem he touched into mind-bendingly crisis…
    For now, we should make every effort to look at the
bright side of the Nixon Administration. It has been a failure of such
monumental proportions that political apathy is no longer considered
fashionable, or even safe, among millions of people who only two years
ago thought that anybody who disagreed openly with “the Government” was
either paranoid or subversive. Political candidates in 1974, at least,
are going to have to deal with an angry, disillusioned electorate that
is not likely to settle for flag-waving and pompous bullshit. The
Watergate spectacle was a shock, but the fact of a millionaire
President paying less income tax than most construction workers while
gasoline costs a dollar in Brooklyn and the threat of mass unemployment
by spring tends to personalize Mr. Nixon’s failures in a very visceral
    One of the strangest things about these five
downhill years of the Nixon presidency is that despite all the savage
excesses committed by the people he chose to run the country, no real
opposition or realistic alternative to Richard Nixon’s cheap and
mean-hearted view of the American Dream has ever developed. It is
almost as if that sour 1968 election rang down the curtain on career
    This is the horror of American politics today–not
that Richard Nixon and his fixers have been crippled, convicted,
indicted, disgraced and even jailed–but that the only available
alternatives are not much better; the same dim collection of burned-out
hacks who have been fouling our air with their gibberish for the last
twenty years.
    How long, oh Lord, how long? And how much longer
will we have to wait before some high-powered shark with a fistful of
answers will finally bring us face-to-face with the ugly question that
is already so close to the surface in this country, that sooner or
later even politicians will have to cope with it?
    Is the democracy worth all the risks and problems
that necessarily go with it? Or, would we all be happier by admitting
that the whole thing was a lark from the start and now that it hasn’t
worked out, to hell with it…
    George Orwell had a phrase for it. Neither he nor
Aldous Huxley had much faith in the future of participatory democracy.
Orwell even set a date: 1984–and the most disturbing revelation that
emerged from last year’s Watergate hearings was not so much the
arrogance and criminality of Nixon’s henchmen, but the aggressively
totalitarian character of his whole Administration. It is ugly to know
just how close we came to meeting Orwell’s deadline [ ]…
    There is a fiendish simplicity in this plan, a
Hitleresque logic…So here it is–the Final Solution to Almost All our
1) A long-term treaty with Russia, arranged by Henry Kissinger,
securing Moscow’s support of an American invasion, seizure and terminal
occupation of all oil-producing countries in the Middle East. This
would not only solve the “energy crisis” and end unemployment
immediately by pressing all idle and able-bodies males into service for
the invasion/occupation forces…but it would also crank up the economy
to a wartime level and give the Federal Government unlimited “emergency
2) In exchange for Russian support for our violent seizure of all
Middle East oil reserves, the United States would agree to support the
USSR in a “pre-emptive nuclear strike” against targets in China,
destroying at least 90 per cent of that nation’s industrial capacity
and reducing the population to a state of chaos, panic and famine for
the next hundred years. This would end the Kremlin’s worries about
China, guarantee peace in Indochina for the foreseeable future,and
insure a strong and friendly ally, in Japan, as kingpin of the East…
    Six months ago I was getting a daily rush out of
wathcing the nightmare unfold. There was a warm sense of poetic justice
in seeing “fate” drive these money-changers out of the temple they had
worked so hard to steal from its rightful owners. The word “paranoia”
was no longer mentioned, except as a joke or by yahoos, in serious
conversations about national politics. The truth was turning out to be
even worse than my most “paranoid ravings” during that painful 1972.”

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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