[Mb-civic] GOP Convention's Looney Tunes ROBERT SCHEER

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Tue Sep 7 14:56:11 PDT 2004



GOP Convention's Looney Tunes

 September 7, 2004

 An advertising guru once warned his acolytes never to confuse the thing
being sold with the thing itself. Good sizzle can always sell a lousy steak.

 This strategy is on brilliant display these days as the Republicans emerge
post-convention, bristling with tough-sounding talk about "girlie men" and
shamelessly attacking decorated war veteran John F. Kerry as some kind of
traitorous wimp. The same leaders who have never apologized for being
totally oblivious to the terrorist threat before Sept. 11 continue to
mawkishly exploit the tragedy for political gain, all while trumpeting
far-off victories for democracy that dissolve like mirages under the mildest

 The Republicans' strategy is to counter critique with caricature, and they
do it with all the panache of an old Roadrunner cartoon, effectively
smashing Kerry with rhetorical frying pans.

 "Even in this post-9/11 period, Sen. Kerry doesn't appear to understand how
the world has changed. He talks about leading a 'more sensitive war on
terror,' as though Al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side," Dick
Cheney mocked in his convention speech, reusing a joke that wasn't funny the
first time. 

 This from a man who secured five deferments from Vietnam because he had
"other priorities" at the time. But it was Cheney's own war "fever," as
Colin Powell described it to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, that was
crucial in the president's reckless decision to chase U.N. inspectors out of
Iraq ‹ lest they confirm that the White House was hyping a WMD threat that
didn't exist.

 "There is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat," said
a sneering George W. Bush, challenging Kerry's patriotism because he dared
vote against a version of an $87-billion bill that will neatly turn around
the fortunes of Cheney's old outfit, Halliburton. So far, the Texas-based
corporation has accomplished next to nothing when it comes to bringing
peace, stability or even a steady supply of running water and electricity to
Iraq and Afghanistan. But what should we expect from a man who used his
family name to get out of serving in Vietnam but has yet to condemn those
among his staff and financial contributors who floated the phony Swift boat
ad attack on Kerry's wartime courage.

 This is the Orwellian cartoon we live with every day that Bush remains
president, in which supporting troops means sending them to die while
occupying a deeply troubled country that posed no threat to us; in which a
man hit with "only shrapnel" when serving his country is considered akin to
a traitor for speaking out against an immoral war when he returns.

 In this Looney Tunes matinee, the loudest voices are those of the
blustering schoolyard bully who crudely masks his own inadequacies by
calling others sissies and punks. The GOP faithful ate up Cheney's barroom
riff on Kerry's alleged "sensitive" side just as they did earlier when
Bush's shill, TV talk-show host Dennis Miller, made the crack that Kerry and
running mate John Edwards should "get a room."

 But, in a more sober mood, can any reasonable person really disagree with
Kerry's call for a "more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more
proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations
and brings them to our side"? The fact is, the money hustlers and Beltway
power brokers know in their gut that Bush is in way over his head and Cheney
is a loose cannon ‹ and that together they have alienated U.S. allies and
enflamed the Islamic world while making only marginal gains against Al

 But these people don't care, because the fix is in. See, Bush promised at
the convention that in a second term he would continue to ensure that the
rich get richer, no matter how many unfair tax breaks, wasteful military
contracts or union-busting laws it takes.

 And if you disagree with this son of privilege ‹ a man who never earned an
honest dollar on his own but acts as if the lives of the unemployed and
working poor are of no consequence ‹ well, you must be an "economic girlie
man." At least, so says mega-millionaire Arnold Schwarzenegger, the macho
Hollywood warrior who has never experienced combat himself.

 This cartoon is all a great joke, except for the price we will pay if the
audience buys into it. We are not watching a movie, and the stakes are very
real. Bush's convention acceptance speech was a clear ideological
endorsement of the neoconservative vision that America can and should
dominate the world with military force.

 Four more years of George W. Bush would mean more blood flowing ‹ and none
of it would be fake.

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