Empire America in an election year is a bundle of paradoxes. Wearing the emblems of war like the Abu Ghraib affair, the 1,000 dead soldiers in Iraq and the thousands of dead civilians, accepting the implications of the Patriot Act, Middle America still seems unfazed by the direction the Bush Administration has taken them since September 11th. In fact many of them view George W. Bush as a great leader during a trying and difficult time in the nation’s history.
What is obviously different this election season than the comedy of the 2000 affair is that the world has changed – the US is bogged down in war and attempting to rebuild and redefine itself in an election where the whole world is watching. We’re all hoping we’re not going to be glued to our television sets on yet another press conference by the Election Commissioner of Broward County or on the receiving end of a vintage Jesse Jackson intervention. It will all make for an interesting outcome on November 2nd.
Dick Cheney’s connection to oil services company Halliburton could burn up the election season because of its subsidiaries winning of a lucrative no bid contract worth up to 7 billion dollars for war restoration work. It has the timing and elements of a good Texas brouhaha months before November 2nd. Oil, war, money, Iraq and the Pentagon – all pieces in the puzzle along with George W. Bush’s war record and the legitimacy of the case for War in Iraq.
Although there is no evidence to suggest Cheney was directly involved in the awarding of these contracts, Halliburton’s success in winning the most lucrative of the tenders could very well put him in the position of having to explain why an oil services company went to number 1 on the list of the Army’s contractors during his tenure in doing post-war restoration work with public dollars. Cheney is also in the unenviable position of still earning deferred payments from Halliburton. The latest one being $178,437 in 2003.
Defense Department auditors have accused Halliburton’s subsidiary for overcharging on fuel, food and other services in Iraq according to the Washington Post.
US President George W. Bush’s sometimes deadlocked, sometimes double-digit lead over beleaguered Democrat John Kerry is closing and the secret weapon will probably be John Edwards, the one term Senator from North Carolina who has less baggage than Cheney, Kerry or Bush. If Edwards can do damage to Cheney and add a bit of spark to the uncharismatic Kerry, there is a possibility for Democratic uplift. Vice Presidential candidates rarely make the difference in American elections, but this one could be different. Ralph Nader gaining ballot access in Florida will also be a factor.
It is a stretch to suggest that John Kerry or John Edwards are progressive, but in the American tradition they are the closest that Americans will come to electing genuine liberals to the White House in a generation even if it won’t mean a noticeable shift in foreign policy – the last one being Lydon Baines Johnson who himself was finished by the Vietnam War.
A nation cannot sustain the trauma of war without its citizenry demanding the truth. And in this process, the leaders, be they Democrat or Republican, are the ones who should rightly fall suspect for taking their nations in particular directions. If the election outcome had been different last time, would the world be in a different place right now? Probably not.
The Bush Administration, the Defense Department hawks and the elite corps of supporters behind the New America Project and their conservative vision of America have successfully left the substantial thumbprint of American hegemony on the rest of the world in their wake. America will be dealing with it for decades to come. The Democrats have utterly failed to inspire when the people are looking for something to believe in. Not quite the Bill Clinton days, but something close to it.