Properly-Applied Disgust

    The woman on the phone sounded upset.

    “How dare you,” she muttered. “How dare you insult our great President. Even if you don’t care for him, you must show him the respect he deserves.”

    I had to chuckle.


    “Because he’s the President.”


    “The President automatically deserves respect.”

    “And why is that?”

    “Because it is expected.”

    “Expected.  Shouldn’t respect be earned?”

    “Not necessarily. Respect goes with the office.”

    “Let me see if I have this straight. Once someone becomes President, he or she must be respected, no matter what they do?”

    “Yes, you must respect the office.”

    “Tell me. Do you respect Bill Clinton?”

    “Of course not. He disgraced the office of President.”

    “I thought the office was above the man.”

    “Not in Clinton’s case. He brought the office down.”

    “But George W. Bush hasn’t also brought the office down?”

    “No, he hasn’t. He is a great and honorable President.”


    “Because he is providing firm and decisive leadership in a time of war.”

    “Which war? The one against terrorism or his private war with Iraq.”

    “They’re one and the same. Iraq attacked the United States.”

    “And when did they do that?”

    “On September 11, 2001.”

    “Oh, that was Iraq? I thought it was al Qaeda.”

    “One and the same.”

    “Really? I thought we went after al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”

    “Yes, we did, but then we had to take care of their allies in Iraq.”

    “And how do we know Iraq was an ally of al Qaeda?”

    “Because our President told us so.”

    “That would be President George W. Bush, right?”

    “Right. He’s a great man, a firm and decisive leader.”

    “Yeah, I know. You told me that already. You keep telling me that. And that would be the same President Bush who told the American people, the Congress and our allies that we had proof Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was plotting to use those weapons against the United States real soon?”

    “The weapons are there. We just haven’t found them yet.”

    “Really? Then why is Secretary of State Powell admitting on national TV that the our so-called proof was, in fact, nonexistent and we were wrong about these so-called weapons of mass destruction?”

    “We did he do that?”

    “Last Sunday on Meet the Press.”

    “I missed that.”

    “I’m not surprised. I guess it wasn’t included in today’s GOP talking points.”

    “I have another question.”

    “What’s that?”

    “What happened to you. You used to be a conservative.”

    “I did?”

    “Well I thought you were.”

    “You thought wrong.”

    “So you’re a liberal?”

    “Wrong again.”

    “What are you then?”

    “I’m a political agnostic.”

    “What’s That?”

    “Someone who doesn’t believe in anyone or anything political.”

    “That’s sad.”

    “Why so.”

    “Everybody has to believe in something.”

    “Oh, I believe in a lot of things, just nothing political. I believe in God, in the love of my wife and the basic goodness of my friends. I believe in the beauty of a sunrise or a sunset, in the tranquility of nature and the greatness that was once America.”

    “Once? You don’t think America is still great?”

    “No, I don’t. I think it has become a cesspool, ruled by special interest groups, fat cats and greedy politicians.”

    “So why don’t you leave?”

    “Because, unlike the President you think is so great, I don’t run from my obligations like he did in the Texas Air Guard. As a citizen, I have an obligation to speak out when I think things are wrong.”

    “Well, I think you’re wrong.”

    “That’s your right. It’s a free country but it won’t be much longer if John Ashcroft has his way.”

    “So you hate both President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft?”

    “Not at all. I hate what they have done to a once-great nation. I hate how they have used the politics of fear to erode human rights and create a police state. I hate their abandonment of the principles of the Republican party – once-proud principles like smaller government and states’ rights.  I hate their allegiance to big-money special interests and the rabid religious right.”

    “I agree with you that Republicans have abandoned many of their core principles but isn’t that necessary in a time of war?”

    “Hitler used the same rationale to suspend basic freedoms in Germany in the 1930s.”

    “So now you’re saying President Bush is a Hitler.”

    “No, I’m saying some of the arguments used to justify the actions of the current administration were used to rationalize what Hitler did in Nazi Germany.”

    “Isn’t that extreme?”

    “No more so than suspending the Constitution, ignoring a suspects rights to counsel, torturing prisoners and holding people incommunicado for months and years.”

    “OK, so maybe we’ve gone too far in some areas. But don’t sacrifices have to be made in these trying times?”

    “How many sacrifices?  How many freedoms do we surrender?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “Neither do it but until somebody convinces me that surrendering any freedoms is a justifiable means to an end I’ll stand fast and shout down anyone who tries.”

    “I see your point. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.”

    “I guess so. That’s why this is America. Have a good day.”