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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

 
Story Lines

Amy Sullivan on Political Animal writes:

An article that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer just two weeks ago included this bit about Ginsberg: "Ben Ginsberg, a legal adviser to the Bush campaign, specifically condemned the dual roles played by Democrats Harold Ickes and Bill Richardson, who had official roles at the convention and also within prominent friendly 527s. 'They're over the coordination line,' Ginsberg said of Ickes and Richardson. 'The whole notion of cutting off links between public officeholders and soft-money groups just got exploded.'"


Ginsberg is a made man and Ginsberg has now resigned from the Bush campaign. The fact that he resigned makes me think that the Bushies are getting a little bit spooked at the furious revelations coming out day by day on the Not-So-Swift lies and their campaign ties.

The convention is getting very close. I'm not sure they anticipated that the Liars were lying quite so baldy and that the press would make anything of the web of connections. (Ginsberg on the record just two weeks ago leads me to believe they thought their flank was covered on this.) The positive message they need to convey at the convention could be stepped on badly if the mediawhores decide to flog this angle while they are sitting there in madison Square Garden with every prominent Republican in the country.

I don't think Bush wants to leave his convention over the labor day week-end still talking about 527's.

Which leads me to Rick Perlstein's latest article in the Village Voice in which he says:

History never truly repeats itself. Prognostication is inherently unreliable. But what history can provide is a set of guidelines to wisdom—guidelines many protesters refuse even to consider. Not all protesters. But enough protesters. All it takes is a few people to begin a chain reaction that could lead to disaster.

Like many, Lew Koch suspects the spark might come from someone working for the Republicans.


The Republicans have already shown that they are willing to engage in unprecedented smears and dirty tricks in this cycle. I think it is highly likely that they have some french looking infiltrators --- provocateurs --- ready to help Bush get out his story line about being "mainstream" while Kerry and the Democrats are all a bunch of smelly hippie radicals who want to tear down the state. This is the '68 Retro Tour election, after all.

It would be really nice if people on our side could think strategically about this instead of looking at politics as some sort of emotional outlet, but I'm not holding my breath. As Perlstein notes:

Rae Valentine is even right, in a cosmic sense, when she says that "people understand that the so-called chaos of streets being shut down by protesters or even a window being broken is nothing compared to the day-to-day chaos and destruction of people being able to afford housing, or health care. That's where the real violence—in the system—lies."

But she is not right in the sense that matters: the political sense. "I think people understand," she says. Linger on that formulation. It is only inane arrogance that gives someone the confidence to pronounce that, magically, "people will understand." They might not understand at all. Instead, what they might understand is: "Bush is better than anarchy in the streets." It ain't fair. But if it all goes down as unplanned, there'll be a whole lot more unfairness coming down the pike in the next four years.


One of the unfortunate things about some of the most passionate and idealistic people on the left is that they aren't really interested in politics --- they are on a sort of spiritual mission that actually conflicts with politics. I admire their committment, but if it is irrational, it helps the worst elements of the political system thrive.

I'm all for protesting as a tactic if it's organized to make a political point. As emotional catharsis or an exercise of tribal identity it only hurts the ball club. I'm hoping that the NYC protest story is one entertaining and pointed "Billionaires For Bush" style political theatre, not anarchy in the streets.

If the worst happens, it should be noted, however, that one of the reasons that the 1968 convention anarchy was helpful to Nixon was that there had been a succession of real riots in various cities. There had been huge protests in the streets and on campus. There was tangible social upheaval in the country that made the confrontation with police at a political convention all the more dramatic. Nothing like that kind of civil unrest exists today (yet) so the backdrop that made the convention protests such a powerful image for Nixon to exploit as the "law and order" candidate isn't there.

The best Bush can hope for is to make it a matter of "values." I don't know how much punch that really has, but it is true that the media loves to go all Claude Rains on us whenever there's the tiniest hint of resistance to the bourgeois values that everybody pretends to hold (while they watch porn and pop prescription drugs.) If violence breaks out or someone does something too edgy you can bet that we'll be treated to another huge dose of phony sanctimony from the millionaire celebrity press corpse.





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