The Republican In Fall:
The Senate Republican keeps a plastic baggie of Tucks in his coat pocket, for these days, in this strangely chilled autumn, he is shitting blood on a regular basis. Every day, the Republican reads the newspapers, and every day, his stomach heaves at what he sees: Patrick Fitzgerald's Sword of Damocles, hanging by that damned single hair, ready to take off the head of the administration; the tumble of Tom DeLay; the monkeyfuck insane House of Representatives that keeps pushing the cruelest legislation possible; the debacle that is the Harriet Miers nomination; the murderous war in Iraq; the rife incompetence of the White House. The Republican tries to avoid seeing all of this information, but partly he knows he must face it - it is his party, after all, and his job; and partly he can't avoid it. Indeed, he's directed his staff to keep him updated on each scandal.

The Republican has been in the Congress for a long time now. He has seen scandals come and go. He knows of a few that never surfaced in the public, like when Bob Dole was caught in the Senate cloakroom, his penless hand being used as a dildo by a moaning Jeanne Kirkpatrick as he was being blown by Kirkpatrick's female assistant; like when Exxon gave Frank Murkowski a stuffed caribou, its fiberglass carcass filled with cash; like when Alphonse D'Amato threatened to have Lawrence Eagleburger whacked. Yes, the Republican has seen so much he has dealt with by winking and looking away. But now, now.

The Republican knows he's going to be called upon to defend his President, to defend his party, to defend conservatism. He will be given talking points on discrediting Fitzgerald that he is to repeat like a mantra of the damned on every Sunday morning talk show. He will put on a good show of playing hardball with Harriet Miers until, ultimately, as expected, he votes for her. He will grill Rumsfeld and Rice and generals big and small about the war and foreign policy before voting for whatever the White House asks. His leadership will tell him turn this around on the Democrats, that they are making mountains out of molehills, that you don't wanna fight, you just wanna move the country forward. And he knows that if he doesn't do any of this, Karl Rove or someone under him will fuck him over - ensure that his state gets few defense contracts or homeland security funds, close a base or two there, dry up that corporate campaign funding trough, put up a true blue Bush lover against him, have his children followed after school, threaten to rape his wife.

The Republican knows he's placed himself in a corner. Because he knows that chances are this time things are different. If that hair breaks, if Fitzgerald goes after the head of the snake, the public's gonna turn on his party. He's seen that happen before, too, with both parties. And he's gotta pick his side: the administration or self-preservation. His learned behavior of the last five years is gonna say to him to prop up the White House, ride this out. All those times he's been beaten by Rove, screamed at by the mad President, scowled at by Cheney - the abuse that makes his reflex tell him to cower. His natural instinct is now to go down with the ship, if necessary.

The Republican, as he looks over this morning's news, wonders what it would be like to break ranks, to name evil where he sees it. To say, as other conservatives have, that this administration has failed, that it is a shit-encrusted assault on the very foundations of the things the Republican loves about America, about politics, about governing. The Republican knows that it would only take one - that once he turns, others will join him, like a branch that pushes through a logjam. And he could save his party from this amateur, this manchild, this pretender, this Bush. He could lead the way, showing that the Republicans put the good of the nation above loyalty to criminals. God, what a magnificent thing that would be: the hearings, the resignations, the housecleaning that would elevate discourse and set the country at least back on the proper path.

For the Republican knows, at the end of the day, each and every individual in his party, in the Congress, bears the weight of complicity in letting things go this far. And if the Capitol crumbles, it will be because men and women like him failed to act as individuals with consciences instead of as good soldiers in a lost platoon.

Yes, he should act, now, but he will not. Such things are what noble men do, but he is not a noble man; he is just a Republican. And the fall has just begun.