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© 2004 The Beast



I stopped counting references to 9/11 on the first night of the Republican National Convention after I got to 40 or so. I knew it was going to be a lot, but I didn’t realize it would be the only reference point of the entire convention.

Here’s what the speeches and shameless PR segments contained:

1.       9/11, Heroes of 9/11, Familes of the victims of 9/11

2.       We are not safe—be afraid

3.       Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists

4.       Bush had an inspiring ad lib at ground zero (this was mentioned at least eight times, and about twice in each speech)

5.       There were no political divisions on 9/11

6.       We did nothing to incur the attacks on 9/11

7.       Michael Moore sucks

8.       Kerry is a flip-flopper/Democrats are pussies

9.       Bush is like Reagan and Churchill

10.   We went to Iraq to liberate the people—forget that other stuff we said

Here’s what wasn’t mentioned even once:

1.       Social Security

2.       Tax cuts for the rich

3.       The deficit/ national debt

4.       Stem cell research

5.       Health care

6.       The environment

7.       Osama

8.       Abortion

9.       Corporate fraud/welfare

10.   Abu Ghraib

It seems the Republicans are sticking with what got them here in the first place: content-free appeals to fear and anger, incessant evocations of the specter of 9/11, and revenge-driven saber rattling. And nothing else.

There’s a good reason for that. The Republicans have done such a profoundly crappy job of steering the ship of state that they can’t possibly defend their own record. And they can’t even whisper about the economy, because they seem to have gotten away with the grandest transfer of wealth in history, and they don’t want to jinx it.

They can’t look back over the last three years at all, really, because it has all been a nightmare of squandered opportunities, blatant lies, phony theater, lost jobs, environmental crime and constitutional erosion. The only thing they really can do is look back to a single day—barring those troublesome seven minutes, of course—and blame it all on that.

And look back they did. They couldn’t have jammed more references to 9/11, terrorism, fear, and security into the first night’s rhetoric with a bucket of Vaseline and a shoehorn.

There was a brilliant moment, sort of, in Giuliani’s speech: “The hatred and anger in the Middle East arises from the lack of accountable governments. Rather than trying to grant more freedom, or create more income, or improve education and basic health care, these governments deflect their own failures by pointing to America and to Israel and to other external scapegoats. But blaming these scapegoats does not improve the life of a single person...”

Now just change “the Middle East” to “America,” and change “America” and “Israel” to “Iraq” and “Islam,” and the story becomes true.

If the Republicans were honest, their platform would read something like this: “We plan to continue taking money from the poor and the middle-class and giving it to energy, defense, and pharmaceutical companies. We will continue to encourage corporate malfeasance by failing to investigate or adequately punish those involved. We will continue to use an eternal war to frighten you into giving up the rights we once called inalienable, and we’ll continue to support horrific military dictatorships in South America and the Caribbean, because you’re just not paying attention. And John Kerry is a French-speaking wuss.”

That’s the only other tactic the GOP seems to have at its disposal: smearing Kerry. They even dusted off that old "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it" quote. Boy, that never gets old, right?

The reason the Republicans will continue to cast Kerry as a rubbery invertebrate is that it works. Encouraged by the maddening staying power of the absurd “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” commercials, they will not relent. Remember, these are the guys who smeared John McCain in 2000. This knowledge really makes McCain look like a spineless chump, up there lauding the guy whose supporters ridiculed him as a shell-shocked whacko with a (gasp) black daughter. Apparently, even the most impressive military record is no obstacle to selling out your integrity.

The Swift Boat scumbags are further proof of that, but TV news pundits see such details as parenthetical. They report on the impact of the ads, disregarding the fact that they are largely responsible for that impact. And rather than condemn them as a repugnant farce, many continue to make excuses.

One such excuse I’ve heard repeated ad nauseum is summed up in this line, from Russ Smith of the New York Press: “… Kerry's being an incredible crybaby about fellow Vietnam veterans protesting his fitness to lead the nation, especially since the amount of money spent by ‘independent’ groups hurling mud at Bush outstrips conservative posses by a long shot.” It’s by far the most popular justification in the media right now for the Swift Boat BS: other “527” groups, like MoveOn.org and True Majority, are spending much more money on ads that attack George Bush, so what’s the diff?

The difference is simple: the allegations in those ads are true. Instead of focusing on the fact that the swift boat ads are a crock of shit, the Republicans would rather call for an end to “negative” campaigning, and “partisan attacks.” (They are also using the “controversy” to call for an end to “527” groups, which just happen to favor Kerry by about 9 to 1.)

The point is this: there’s nothing wrong with attack ads, or negative campaigning. Not so long as the attacks are founded in truth. Bush and Cheney are ripe for and worthy of such attacks, and the Democrats made a mistake by not laying into them harder at their own convention. There’s so much material there, and it really is the best case to vote for Kerry.

The reason the Swift Boat commercial is vile, and should be criminal, has nothing to do with its “negativity.” It is simply false. It perpetrates an outright, demonstrable lie on the people (the mainstream press has also been complicit in the spread of the lie, by treating it as if it were a real scandal, not to mention repeatedly broadcasting the ad in its entirety). This is the very same reason that the anti-Bush ads are entirely appropriate: because Bush has consistently lied to us as well, and should certainly be called out for it, if not impeached.

In every aspect of their media efforts, the Republicans strive to take our focus off the nuts and bolts issues of running our country, not to mention the epic stream of bullshit they have emitted since long before the current administration was appointed. They want voters scared shitless about terrorism, about gay marriage, about rap music and hippies. Their political case is weak, so they’ll try to destroy Kerry’s image with fabricated details of his service almost half a century ago.

Again, the reason for this is that the Republicans’ record is utterly indefensible. A cursory examination of their economic policies reveals them to be a total disaster by any honest measure. The tax burden has shifted onto poorer Americans. The deficit is a runaway juggernaut. We have fewer jobs, and more of them consist of benefit-free, hopeless wage-slavery. We all know the war in Iraq was never pitched as ”liberation” until it was too late to change our minds, and blaming “wartime” for our sagging economy is just another lie. Literally everything has gotten worse since they seized the White House.

But it’s easy to fool this country, because Americans have no stomach for economics. They don’t get it, and they don’t really want to. Social Security, Tax cuts, loopholes, deficits, campaign finance, no-bid contracts, privatization, deregulation…it all sounds pretty boring to most Americans. They don’t know too much about all those numbers, thanks to our disgusting excuse for an educational system. Many simply cannot support a Democrat, because, by their twisted “Conservative Christian” values, it’s worth hurling the majority of our population into third-world financial despair to prevent fags from feeling comfortable with themselves.

What they do know for sure is that George W. Bush is stupid enough to be one of them. And they also know this: they want Muslims to die, and George W. Bush is the man for that job. At least that’s what the GOP is banking on, because there’s just no other reason to vote for these pricks.



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