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Bush: All War All the Time
3 February 2002
While Democrats rarely set me on fire today, almost nothing about the modern-day Republican Party elicits admiration from me.
Not its out-of-touch, misogynistic, anti-choice platform, which discriminates cruelly against poor, pregnant women.
Not its oft-trumpeted disdain for &qupt;big government,&qupt; which turns into the height of hypocrisy at the mere hint of defense contracts, corporate bailouts or the right to privacy.
But when it comes to marketing a mediocre product, my hat is off to the GOP.
Nobody does it better.
In George W. Bush, Republicans have transcended the Emperor's New Clothes Hall of Fame. And, now, thanks to the murderous, Sept. 11 deeds of a newly christened &qupt;evil axis,&qupt; Republicans hardly need to work to ensure long-lasting, widespread brand loyalty for their boy.
In fact, as Bush so enthusiastically demonstrated in his State of the Union message last week, the only thing his administration must do is keep America afraid and &qupt;at war.&qupt;
Confine a nation's people to a crouched and shuddering position like that, and they lose their perspective. In no time, they might start hallucinating: Bush the Younger could look like Winston Churchill before it's all over.
With fear occupying stage-center of our hearts, the commander-in-chief can feel free to alibi all day long about his cozy relationship with Enron's Kenneth Lay. He can encourage his attorney general to render due process dead whenever it suits the game plan of &qupt;homeland&qupt; security.
He can allow his Secretary of War -- oops, Defense -- to play word games with the international rules of the Geneva Convention. And he can defend as essential to the integrity of the executive branch his vice president's penchant for closed meetings with former colleagues from the multibillion- dollar energy industry.
How can any of these domestic mini-devils compete against the specter Bush raised in his State of the Union speech? In tones reminiscent of James Whitcomb Riley's &qupt;Little Orphant Annie&qupt; and her nightly telling of &qupt;the witch tales,&qupt; Bush advised the nation:
&qupt;Thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by outlaw regimes, are now spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs, set to go off without warning.&qupt;
Worse, these &qupt;enemies view the entire world as a battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they are&qupt; -- except, of course, in Saudi Arabia. Given their oil reserves, the Saudis apparently have lifetime immunity from righteous U.S. anger.
Switching to a variation on Tom Joad's monologue in &qupt;The Grapes of Wrath,&qupt; Bush vowed:
&qupt;So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists, freedom is at risk, and America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it.&qupt;
Except, of course, in Saudi Arabia.
Look out, North Korea. Better hunker down, Iran. Think you've already seen the worst of our &qupt;steadfast and patient and persistent&qupt; justice, Iraq? Think again. We'll be over, we're coming over. And we won't come back 'til it's over,
This is marketing genius: the still-bleeding wound of Sept. 11 being salved and bandaged with a war that has no uniformed enemy and no end. As Bush declared:
&qupt;I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer . . . Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch, yet it must be waged on our watch. We can't stop short . . . History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight.&qupt;
Forever and ever and ever. Amen.