Never before has an allegedly adult male been able to continue playing pretend with the fervor and commitment of an unknowing child well into his adult life, a game traditionally abandoned by those entering what should be their more mature years.
The signs of this ability to ignore reality and steadfastly adhere to the world of the phantasmagoric were apparent from the outset of the Bush administration, starting with the obvious: Let’s pretend an ignorant, ill-spoken idiot was legitimately elected to the presidency of the United States.
Once begun, the Oval Office version of let’s pretend quickly evolved into puppet theatre, as Cheney and the neocons dangled their front-man from strings before the public – who, of course, were meant to play along with them, starting with let’s pretend this ne’er-do-well failure is actually running the show.
And so it began:
Let’s give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, along with the wealthiest corporations – and let’s pretend that every American is getting an equal break.
Let’s tell the Fundies that we’re going to amend the Constitution to quash any hopes of ever recognizing same-sex marriages – and let’s pretend we are actually going to do it.
Let’s set a course for lining the pockets of Big Oil, Big Business, Big Pharma – and let’s pretend it is for the benefit of average Americans.
Of course, the events of 9/11 (as any GOPer will tell you) changed everything – except for the game of let’s pretend, which would now be played with more abandon than usual, and with much higher stakes than were on the table before.
Let’s insist that we were attacked by Al Qeada in Afghanistan – but let’s pretend it was Iraq, and act accordingly.
Let’s say there was a connection between the attacks and Saddam Hussein – and then let’s pretend we never said it.
Let’s tell the citizenry that the Patriot Act is for their own protection – and then let’s pretend that their rights aren’t being dismantled by its passage.
Let’s stonewall any investigation into 9/11 – and when there is no way of avoiding such investigation, let’s pretend we’re telling the whole truth and nothing but, even as we refuse to produce the relevant documentation without redaction, and refuse to testify under oath.
Let’s launch Shock ‘n Awe and invade a sovereign nation that poses no threat – and let’s pretend that we had legitimate national security reasons for doing so.
Let’s declare to American citizens that this unnecessary war of choice will protect our shores from alleged terrorists – and let’s pretend it will be over in a matter of weeks, and will pay for itself.
Let’s state without qualification that we relied on solid intelligence to prove this war necessary – and let’s pretend we didn’t fabricate “the proof”.
Let’s disallow the publication of any photographs of the caskets of dead soldiers – and let’s pretend those deaths never happened.
Let’s act totally dismayed when the scandals of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo are exposed – and let’s pretend torture was instigated by a few bad apples, who acted without our knowledge.
Let’s act patriotic when the incidents of rendition and torture can no longer be ignored – and then let’s pretend it was legal and necessary all along.
Let’s suppress any information about the tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and the total destruction of their country – and let’s pretend everything is going swimmingly.
Let’s put billions of dollars into the pockets of war-profiteers like Halliburton – and let’s pretend that the people making obscene profits aren’t related to White House occupants and their families and friends.
Let’s feign dismay and surprise when a covert CIA agent is outted – and let’s pretend it wasn’t meant as a warning to anyone who publicly disagrees with our agenda, and let’s pretend we’re going to “get to the bottom” of such a traitorous act.
Let’s go on (yet another) vacation as the experts tell us that Katrina is imminent, and her destruction of NOLA may well be catastrophic – and let’s pretend we were never warned.
Let’s appoint our political cronies to positions that may require life-and-death decisions – and let’s pretend, after-the-fact, that we had no idea how incompetent they were.
Let’s arrange yet another series of photo-ops where we pose for the cameras and act like we intend to do something – and let’s pretend it wasn’t just that, another series of photo-ops in place of actual leadership.
In the current state of our nation, the game of let’s pretend continues unabated.
Let’s watch the stock market and the devaluing of the US dollar – and let’s pretend the economy is doing well.
Let’s stand by as the American middle-class drowns in credit card debt, as they lose their jobs to outsourcing and plant shut-downs, as they struggle to retain homes mortgaged by unscrupulous lenders – and let’s pretend that the bottom isn’t falling out beneath us.
Let’s do nothing as our infra-structure, our system of education, and our economy crumbles, and as our national debt rises to unprecedented heights – and let’s pretend that we represent “fiscal responsibility”, and that these seemingly detrimental warning signs are actually beneficial to the American way of life.
Let’s ignore the plight of American soldiers returning State-side to face endless red-tape to get their due, lack of assistance with overcoming the wounds they suffered as a result of their service, and even homelessness or suicide – and let’s pretend that we Support the Troops.
As we head into the 2008 elections, we are being asked yet again to ignore the realities of what has happened to our country and its citizenry, and what continues to happen on a daily basis.
The Republican candidates (who, while proud of their fearless leader, G.W. Bush, are still reluctant to mention him by name) want us to believe that the game of let’s pretend can still be played.
Let’s pretend it isn’t all collapsing around us; let’s pretend that despite everything we have seen, heard and experienced over the last seven-plus years, the course we are on isn’t an unmitigated disaster.
Let’s pretend that we still have the loyalty of our traditional allies, still have the respect of the world, still have a chance of surviving another four to eight years of sticking our heads in the sand and playing another round of Let’s Petend.
Yeah, by all means, let’s pretend we can do that.
Perhaps as we, as a nation, go down for the last time, we can just pretend that we actually survived.