My good buddy Paul Bunyan wrote me today. Here’s what he said:
The president has entirely ceded his presidency to his campaign manager and PR people. Bush may be the first president in history who governs without personally holding any ideal whatsoever other than the desire to be elected a second time. Unfortunately, the brand identity that this guy’s advisors have chosen for him is as the Avatar of Christian Vengeance. Somewhere pretty early in the planning of the ad campaign, somebody figured out that a product of this type would have an immense advantage over its competitors so long as both were positioned in a context of global war. They worked it out and it was as pretty as can be. As long as war continues, and American soldiers are at risk, the moo-cow people will feel a vague, primal disturbance, and will huddle around their leader. The effect is stronger if the soldiers are winning, but it is still pretty strong even if they are losing, and with Vietnam it took more than 8 years before people got tired of being patriotic for something that was almost as stupid as the Iraq war. But Karl Rove had also learned a lesson from the first gulf war. Bush’s dad had gone to war in the Middle East almost 2 years before the election, and he made the mistake (the political mistake, as we know in retrospect) of prosecuting his war with almost perfect success. He did this by leaving the war-planning up to the military, who put together what was probably the most perfectly realized execution of a “combined arms” military plan in the history of the world, and utterly destroyed or demoralized their opponent in a matter of days. The Nazis (who invented this style of warfare, which they called “blitzkrieg,” would have been proud). Like younger George, older George enjoyed 80% approval ratings for many months. But unlike younger George, older George was no longer at war when election season rolled around.You know, Bush’s war begins to make sense if you look at it that way. The dismissal of Jay Garner for Paul Bremer. The exclusion of the military intelligence study-group who wrote the briefing on post-war Iraq (I have the details on this somewhere. The head of it has talked to the press. Their paper, which predicted pretty much every nasty thing that has happened in Iraq that has come as a “surprise,” was excluded from CPA briefings and the personnel were all rejected for Iraq duty, despite their special knowledge). The refusal to guard cultural treasures, to police the cities, to talk to the people. The attack on Fallujah. I couldn’t figure it out–are they evil or stupid?The answer is they’re evil, but in this special way. It’s not, as I imagined (I couldn’t think of anything else) that they are trying to bring the world to destruction to hasten the coming of Jesus. It’s something much more simple, believable and clearly motivated. And there is no need for any sort of widespread conspiracy. They (Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld) want to get reelected, and so they want the war to drag on for a while–they can’t afford to succeed. And so they have decided to do everything in a manner opposite to whatever their military people advise. If the generals say we need more troops, we bring in less. If they say we need another week of mobilization before starting the war, we go in a week early and our supply lines are shot to hell. If they have a program for winning the “hearts and minds” of the populace, we make sure that is not implemented. But politically, it works. There is no downside, short-term. It’s a win-win. It really seems insurmountable, thus the panic at the village voice. But here’s the possible hope. Everything that took 8 years in the 1960s takes 1 year now. The people are more brainwashed than ever, but they are also more malleable than ever–It’s not a brainwashing that runs deep. And they have also never encountered this level of incompetence and lies, and some of it will leak through.
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I indeed I agreed with Paul. For to be so low as to be below the requirement to expose this is very low indeed. It’s a frightening concept to contemplate how deeply one must need to draw on the powers of banality to consistently squish oneself so as to remain always below this requirement. Even the slightest slip of the tongue towards reality or honesty would raise the profile of the challenger to visibility, and sheer visibility, any visibility, would shatter the falsity of the Antichrist (President). But Kerry cannot do it, or, rather, the demon driving the earth towards its seemingly certain destruction is so firmly in charge that the slippery droolings constantly emanating from his mouth – the only man in a position to replace the devil – grease his already forlorn carcass with the musky elusiveness of all the losers that have led up to him. It’s a kind of willful lying, a disease of the democrats, a need for daddy that is so sad, so sick in its lack of conviction and understanding of pride, so the same in Mondale and Muskie and Dukakis and Hart and Gore, that we are due for being treated to its burnt butterscotch sweetness one more time. I want to believe, but I can’t make stone soup again.