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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Friday, December 19, 2003

 
Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead

What an exciting few days it's been. Evil-doer extraordinaire Saddam Hussein was captured. This is a very good thing for the Iraqi people and a very good thing for the Bush campaign. You can always tell it is a good thing for the Iraqi people when they start shooting guns off in the streets in celebration. You can always tell it's a good thing for the Bush administration when they allow Commander Codpiece out in public to strut and blather smugly about holes and caves and such. (If I'm not mistaken he had to adjust himself more than once during his triumphal press conference. Kate O'Beirne was noticeably flushed.)

Will this make a difference in the campaign? Of course. One of our best attack lines "...can't even find Saddam" is now inoperative. And the companion "Osama bin Forgotten" line is treading on thin ice, too. You never know when they might trot him out and make you look like an ass. But, since I think this campaign is going to be a death match with the advantage going back and forth several times ending with the predicted close election dependent on turn-out and persuading a handful of swing voters in close swing states, I doubt that catching Saddam will be decisive.

Unfortunately, however, it doesn't do much to change the fact that the Democratic party is perceived as far weaker on national security and foreign policy than the GOP. Judging from the reaction of the press to the capture of Saddam, and Wolf Blitzer's appearance on Entertainment Tonight last Monday assuring viewers that the trial will be "the best show of the year," I think we can be pretty sure that the servile media is going to actively help Bush's traveling salvation show with everything they've got. War is good television and Bush is going to be starring as Master And Commander of the Pax Americana no matter how much we try to change the subject.

It's possible, of course, that something terrible could happen to change the dynamic. The economy could take a serious nose dive. We could have another terrorist attack. Bush could be caught on tape snorting coke with his brother Neil and a 12 year old Thai hooker. But hope, as they say, is not a plan, nor is it decent, humane or liberal to wish for such things. (Well, maybe the last one.)

Barring any of that, I'm afraid that this is going to again be one of those TV sitcom renewal elections. Has the show run its course? Is the new Darren cuter than the old Darren? Has the storyline dried up?

All the signs point to no, so far. The Bush Show ratings go up every time they are able to trot out Lil' Cap'n T-Ball bragging on the might and right of the USA. People love that stuff. 'Specially if it means we kicked some Ay-rab butt. And nobody loves it more than those alienated white male Bush lovers that Buzzflash profiled yesterday in this interview with Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild.

The doctor's diagnosis is convincing, but her prescription needs a little work. She claims that these males can be won over by this "plain spoken" appeal:

Hochschild: "You've been exposed to a giant hoax, and here's what the hoax is. It is offering you a make-believe candied apple with one hand and picking your pocket with the other hand. And take your own feelings back. They're yours. And put them behind a vote for someone who's going to really solve your problems. Set about seriously setting up a domestic agenda that makes a difference to you."

This series of wars that's an imperial stretch into the Middle East -- how does that help the blue-collar man, except for killing his relatives? The Democrats can say that's Bush's war. That's not a U.S. war. It has nothing to do with U.S. security. In fact, it's a whole "tap the hornet's nest" approach to international relations which makes us all a great deal less safe. So tell the blue-collar guy that this is a giant ruse and a scapegoating.

[...]

There's been a whole hug-the-middle strategy of the Democratic Leadership Council, and that worked for Clinton. But it's not going to work for anybody after Clinton. I think the Democrats have got to go in the opposite direction -- stop hugging the middle. Get out there behind the issues we really believe in. And I guess along with that we have to enliven a vision of what life would be like if we weren't just privately rich, but rather, all publicly rich. If we really had great schools, and great playgrounds, and great public hospitals, and then there wouldn't be such a desperate scramble to be privately well off.

This is the ultimate thing -- not to be afraid to say there's another America that doesn't leave us hanging, each on our own, and then feeling bad about feeling bad, and that says we can structurally wire it so there aren't failures here. That's the problem we've got to fix -- by providing a vision of an alternative.


See? The way to win over blue collar guys who like Bush because he represents their sense of white male entitlement is to calmly inform the slow but earnest losers that (unlike us smart people) they have been duped by the rich Republicans. Illustrate your point by using 5 year old child metaphors like "make-believe candy apple" so they can understand. Tell them to "take their feelings back" and vote for somebody who's going to "solve their problems." Tell 'em we'll help them to "stop feeling bad about feeling bad."

Or maybe we could just invite the morons to brunch and screen Beaches over mimosas.

I certainly hope that no Democrats are running on the idea of trying to end Americans' "desperate scramble to be privately well off" or saying that we will "structurally wire it so there aren't failures here." I know what she meant, but it might not travel well in a country where even a fair number of its most progressive citizens are willing to see disabled children lose their funding rather than pay a higher registration fee on their BMWs.




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