Living in the Weimar Republic of America
It's become a bit of a cliché to compare the rise of Cheney-Bush fascism to the ascendancy of the Third Reich, but the analogy does reveal a fundamental truth about power and politics.
Fascists or Bolsheviks (just look at the short-lived Alexander Kerensky republic in Russia that fell to the Soviets in 1917) proceed on a premise that liberals are ambivalent about asserting power -- and take full advantage of that weakness.
Bush may be a tin horn cowboy propped up by Rove and Cheney, but almost all of his power at this time is derived by the unprecedented unitary authority granted to him by a Democratic Congress. In short, an utterly failed president guilty of illegal activity, whose poll numbers are in the dust, is able to make enough Democrats fearful that they give him power when they should be aggressively taking it away from him.
In the narrative of "toughness" that Rove has created for Bush -- and that Cheney has backed up with Franco-like substance -- Bush emerges as a "strong" figure, ironically, only because the timid Democratic leadership is so weak.
We are in a moment of history, when the Democrats should be controlling the debate and have Bush, Cheney, Rove and Gonzales cornered. Instead of impeaching Gonzales, they -- due to a lack of party discipline -- just gave him the power to legally spy on Americans without any real accountability, even after he has confessed to at least two programs of illegal spying.
The right wing depends upon a fundamental weakness in the character of "liberals" to achieve its authoritarian goals.
At this point in time, after having failed to protect us from 9/11 -- despite being warned of terrorist acts by bin Laden about to happen in the U.S. -- and years of a failed war against terrorism that has consumed the financial resources of our nation and all too many lives, the Democrats should be making Bush quiver in his boots about the next terrorist attack and how his ineptitude has allowed it to potentially happen.
Instead, the Democrats fear a guy who spent the first ten minutes after 9/11 reading a story about a pet goat with grade school students until his handlers could figure out what to do with him -- and then he went AWOL, just as he did in terms of avoiding service in Vietnam.
The Weimar Republic fell because the advocates of democracy in Germany were too timid to fight back against the thuggish tactics of Hitler's storm troopers. They passed the "enabling act" after the Reichstag fire (read terrorist act) that gave him virtually omnipotent power to "protect the homeland."
The right wing is right about one thing: the Democrats in Congress don't have the will or the wherewithal to put up a fight for the Constitution. Bullying works against a caucus without a backbone.
Hitler's power was legally granted to him by those who thought that the "homeland" faced grave threats.
The gravest threat, of course, that the German homeland faced, was Hitler himself.
That is an analogy to Congress's abject surrender to Bush that is, indeed, worth repeating.