Water Man Spouts

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Relative Deprivation of Dick Cheney

"Patiently endured so long as it seemed beyond redress, a grievance come to appear intolerable once the possibility of removing it crosses men’s minds. For the mere fact that certain abuses have been remedied draws attention to others and they now appear more galling; people may suffer less, but their sensibility is exacerbated.’ -- Tocqueville

Political scientists and sociologists have often studied the observations of the historian and foreign minister Alexis de Tocqueville, who described the events that led to the French Revolution. The events he spoke of have been associated with a concept known as "relative deprivation." There are a number of good definitions of "relative deprivation"; however, for the sake of this discussion, we will go with Diana Kendall’s description of it being the group phenomena that occurs as a result of "unfulfilled rising expectations." (Sociology in Our Times; Thomson Wadsworth; 2005; page 530)

In general terms, this means that social change is most likely to take place not when people are oppressed beyond a breaking point, despite the fact that this is what seems to make sense to the average person. Rather, social changes are most likely to take place when things are beginning to look like they might get better for a group of people, and then the progress comes to a halt.
In many cases, it has to do with the people within the group comparing their status with that of others. Hence, the issues that spark the change are not "past events," so much as they are the reality of the moment, and the potential for the future.

Now, what does that have to do with the Scooter Libby trial ?

Good question. The Libby trial has to do, of course, with the purposeful lying that led this country to war in Iraq. In the past, the administration that lied the nation into war seemed extremely powerful. No one in Congress seemed capable of doing battle with the beast. The judicial branch betrayed the Constitution by putting this group in power to begin with. The corporate media had donned cheer leading uniforms. Rational thought was widely dismissed by the Fox News clones. Progressive democrats were considered conspiracy theorists. And when an individual like Joseph Wilson stepped up to call the administration on its lies, they harnessed the power of the executive branch in an effort to crush him completely.

Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld instituted a "shadow government," which showed their willingness -- No! eagerness! -- to trample the democratic form of government that really is the best potential of the United States. And, at that time, the vast majority of the American population was so numbed out as a result of the social novocain injected into their daily lives that they sat back, passively, and assumed the role of spectators.

Yet there were some people who recognized the dangerous drift of the Bush-Cheney administration, and who bravely challenged them. Some were people like Joseph Wilson; others were Representatives like Conyers and Waxman; but the vast majority were those people found at the grass roots level. And, of course, there were people like Mr. Eckenrode and Mr. Fitzgerald, who investigated the Plame scandal.

In the two years since George Bush was "re-elected," the war in Iraq has become recognized as the greatest failure in American foreign policy. Bush and Cheney have been largely discredited. Even most republicans recognize they are failures. Still, Americans hear President Bush speak of increasing the troops in Iraq, and they know it is because he is more willing to send soldiers to their death, than to admit that he not only was wrong to invade Iraq, but that he doesn’t have a clue how to resolve the problems he continues to cause. And Americans hear an angry, hostile, insane Dick Cheney snarl that the war is going well, and that anyone who questions him is – like Joe Wilson – an enemy of the state.

I used "google" today, to check how many newspapers across the country have articles covering yesterday’s testimony in the Libby case. There are more than a thousand. More than a thousand newspapers with articles that detail how a member of Dick Cheney’s inner circle revealed in court what a lying snake he is.

The headline in the Baltimore Sun reads: "Aide testifies Cheney joined effort to discredit war critic: She says vice president, Libby actively sought to spin news coverage." A story from KansasCity.com notes, "Martin’s unflappable testimony was a blow to Libby’s defense …. (and) also undercut Libby’s claim he was too busy with terrorism threats" to be concerned with Wilson. The article refers to Cheney as being "obsessed" and ordering his "closest aides to keep aggressive tabs" on Wilson.

The LA Times’ headline reads, "Cheney’s key role in leak case detailed." The first sentence of the article states, "In the first such account from Vice President Dick Cheney’s inner circle, a former aide testified Thursday that Cheney personally directed the effort to discredit an administration critic by having calls made to reporters in 2003."

The list goes on and on.

In November, 2006, I wrote that the time had come for the grass roots to demand that Congress begin to take action to impeach VP Dick Cheney. Many people agreed. Others expressed a belief that such action on our part would be reckless. I respectfully ask those who sincerely questioned the call to impeach Cheney to reconsider. I believe that such a step is needed to bring the madness of the Bush-Cheney Iraq policy to an end.

Thank you for your consideration.


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