The Neo-Con Artists’ Three-Card Monte

When I was but a sprout living in New York City, I was broke or nearly broke most of the time. As a struggling singer/actor/writer/whatever, I sometimes had to make tough choices in order to save money. I could either walk everywhere and save my subway fare so I’d have enough money to eat something, or I would spare my legs a few miles of walking and live with the ensuing hunger.

So when I spotted some guys playing three-card monte one afternoon in Times Square, I naively thought it looked like a way I could both eat and ride the subways. Uncharacteristically that day, I had $20 in my pocket. So I watched and waited for the right opportunity. I saw how people were making foolish mistakes, especially this one woman — repeatedly pointing to a card that anyone could see was not the Ace of Spades and apparently losing twenty after twenty. And then, every so often, she’d get it right and would get a payoff. I was sure I had it all figured out. I took my one shot and, of course, I lost my $20. The bill was no sooner snatched out of my hand than I realized the woman was the dealer’s accomplice and she was there to reel in suckers like me.

The loss of the $20 was a sting to my paltry budget, but more painful was the humiliation that I had been taken by these con artists. I never mentioned the incident to anyone for years afterward, because I was too embarrassed. I was supposed to be smarter than that.

I relate this story because I’m getting the sense these days that a whole slew of honorable, trusting Republicans are in that state of embarrassment about having championed the causes of the current administration. People who voted for Bush seem to be in that same interim state of denial because they don’t want to admit that they were so naive as to be taken in by this gaggle of mega-grifters.

They still want to believe — and who wouldn’t — that the kind of pervasive corruption with which the Bush administration is clearly riddled couldn’t possibly happen. That kind of blatant corruption only happens in Chicago city politics and in Louisiana, right? It couldn’t possibly be happening right under our noses.

Well-meaning Republicans, I invite you — no, implore you — to come into the light. Look at the facts. Seek out the information that is available about what is really going on. Get your information from someplace other than Fox News. Lives are at stake. Our form of government is at stake. Our standing on the world stage is at stake.

This administration has appealed to your own sense of morality while they have abandoned any morality of their own. They have breached your trust in ways that you couldn’t even imagine because your own mind couldn’t think such devious thoughts. They have squandered the lives of your children in a war that they deceitfully waged in order to further their own business and political interests. These are all of the hallmarks of con artists.

As an individual voter, no one really knows — in theory — who you voted for unless you choose to reveal it yourself. So, years from now, I guarantee that many actual Bush voters will be saying how they voted for Gore and Kerry. I can forgive you that little White House lie, because I know what that sort of humiliation feels like (on a somewhat smaller scale).

But what I have a hard time forgiving is the otherwise well-intended Republicans in the House and the Senate who continue to march in lockstep with this Administration. They are the political equivalent of that woman who kept feigning defeat as she fed twenty after twenty to her friend, the three-card monty dealer. Years from now, these Republicans will not be able to wash off the stink of corruption that stuck to them from rubbing elbows with the liars, thieves, traitors and killers in the current administration.