It really was appalling, and probably the most concise litany that I've yet heard against the abuses and corruption of the Bush administration. Would that Kerry had been this clear, direct, and forceful in the debates.
Even the list of names that he recited, of longtime lobbyists for various industries who were appointed to head the agencies that are supposed to be the watchdogs for the American people, was enough to fill you with dismay. Kennedy decided to limit his examples tonight to just issues involving the energy industry, but even then there seemed to be no limit to the awful examples from which he could draw. The emission jumps in substances like mercury in the last three years of around 200% because these laws have been scrapped or are no longer enforced are astonishing. Kennedy related that when having his mercury levels tested lately he was told that if he were a woman of child-bearing age, his mercury levels were so high that he would--not could, but would--have children with a 5 to 7 point IQ loss. Meg Ryan (the self-described "neophyte activist" who introduced Kennedy to us tonight) said that she had just "woken up" to the danger of these changes when she, too, received similar information about her own toxic mercury level.
What was most discouraging was not, however, the seemingly-endless list of environmental disasters instigated for short-term economic gain, but the subversion of American democracy that underlay the descriptions. To hear that after receiving $100 million dollars from the energy industry ($42 million before the 2000 election, $58 million since), one of the first things that Mr. Bush did upon taking office was to dismiss the numerous criminal cases pending in the Justice department against the very people donating to his campaign: in other words, an American President accepted millions of dollars from accused criminals and then made the criminal cases against the accused go away without coming to trial.
Fortunately, however, Mr. Bush is for "values." And he's wearing my cross and my flag when he tells me that, too.
The list of abuses and corruptions goes on and on and the destruction of democracy and marriage of government and corporations that Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower all warned us about as the greatest danger to democracy in America is quickly coming to pass. As I've mentioned before, Shirley Williams of the U.K.'s House of Lords said to me that the most amazing thing she'd seen in the last 20 years was the replacement of democracy in America by plutocracy, and how the American public hadn't noticed (perhaps the fact that all of our "independent news media" is controlled by--what is it now? a mere six corporations?--has something to do with it). I begin to wonder how much, even under Democratic-party leadership, we really can cut that link.