A very wise Republican once said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannt fool all the people all the time.” The American people may have been a little slow on the uptake after 9/11, but in recent months, they have begun to prove why one of America’s greatest statesmen was moved to utter those words.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks, here on our own shores where enemies have rarely dared to set foot since we became a sovereign nation, scared the hell out of people. By some cosmic accident, the Bush administration occupied the seat of power at the time of the attacks, so the people looked to them for answers and protection. The Republicans put all their corporate boardroom leadership skills into play. They smelled fear and exploited it to the hilt. If the word “terrorist” could strike the people dumb and pliant, they would invoke it freely and often to get everything they wanted.

Fast forward four years. To a war effort that has the US armed forces with one foot in a bucket of quick setting concrete and the other on a banana peel. To a disaster relief system that, when called upon to perform, lived up to the “disaster” half of the moniker, but the “relief” part, not so much. To a government that has been the nation’s hard-on for five years, and is suddenly in desperate need of a healthy dose of Viagra.

So, they go to Dr. Frist for the scrip. Frist whips out his prescription pad, and pens the Rx. “Bird flu.” That “fear” card worked magically for us in the past. We’ll pull ourselves out of the fire by making ourselves strong and in control in the face of this imaginary impending catastrophe. Since true disaster has proven light years beyond our leadership skills…

Though the once finely-tuned Bush media machine was enlisted once again to spread fear-producing half-truths in public places, the people, by and large, are proving stubbornly immune. Unfortunately for the GOP, images of real dead soldiers, real anarchy in Iraq, real drowned nursing home residents in New Orleans, have clouded, or maybe clarified, the people’s view of the Republican leadership. The American people are showing all the signs of coming down with a full-blown case of reality. They may have been slowed and stunned by 9/11, but they are starting to get it. And soon the Republican leadership is really going to get it.