Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Banana republic

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

John L. Perry, a columnist at Newsmax. Perry does say that "a coup is not an ideal option," words so ringing they deserve to be written into the Constitution. And he figures that the officers who (hypothetically, possibly) take over won't be wearing sunglasses. Perry doesn't moon over an Argentina-style coup. "America isn't the Third World. If a coup does occur here it will be civilized," he says. He has in mind something classy, upscale, like in Turkey. The top officers just sit the president down and tell him how things are going to be.  

There's one point on which I agree with Perry: "That it has never happened doesn't mean it won't." Countries become banana republics the way people become fat: while telling themselves that something altogether different is going on. Since the Lewinsky mess I've had the sneaking fear that the US is on a decades-long slouch toward banana status because the right has been so noisy and vicious and so indifferent toward  stability and democratic procedure. Bringing loaded weapons near the president, hogtying the government with a frivolous impeachment proceeding, fantasizing about brave officers running the Commerce Department -- to tell the truth, I find it disgusting. Perry's bio note says he "served on White House staffs of two presidents." What kind of White House would employ someone like that? Well, a Republican White House, and the Republicans are one of our two major parties. That's a frightening thought if you care about keeping your democracy.

Probably we'll never sink as low as I fear. Isn't that reassuring? 

update,  Ed Morrissey and Confederate Yankee, two wingnut bloggers of note, have both repudiated Perry and report that his column has been taken down. On the other hand, I found it easily enough.

CY reveals an embarrassing fact for me: Perry's two White Houses were Democratic. Bad news for my post, good news for the country. Republican White Houses do not incubate coup lovers. And Perry's White House time was so long ago -- during the Johnson and Carter administrations -- that he's had plenty of time to go off on his own crazy tangent. At the end of which, of course, he found a home at Newsmax.

CY insists that Perry "is not a conservative," which seems like a stretch. Newsmax hires conservatives, and conservatives write things like this: 

Americans are increasingly alarmed that this nation, under President Barack Obama, may not even be recognizable as America by the 2012 election ...

They [military officers] can see this president waging undeclared war on the intelligence community ...
... They can see the nation’s safety and their own military establishments and honor placed in jeopardy as never before.

The quotes are from Perry's coup column. So, nice try by Confederate Yankee. But I look at it this way: there are wingers who are very, very much against military coups in the US. Good enough.

update 2,  More counter-evidence. An interview with Gore Vidal reminds us of the left-winger's special esteem for Timothy McVeigh, the right-wing antigovernment terrorist. So the right, despite its impressive work in this area, does not have a monopoly on people who want to throw away our stability.

Vidal also sees a coup coming. He doesn't say when but does say why: the general shittiness of the American people, with a mention of Bush thrown in for seasoning.

The writer indulges in some of his usual self-overestimation. On sizing up JFK: "It’s like asking, ‘What do I think of my brother?’ It’s complicated. I’d known him all my life ..." Yeah, right. On himself: "I've never been fat."

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