Corn Sugar from the GOP
You always know somebody’s headed for a deeply satisfying fall when they resort to engaging in a loud, sudden, and stunningly counterfactual rebranding of themselves, seemingly overnight. Actual behavioral changes are never required for this spectacle, though; it’s supposed to be enough to simply rename shit, searchlights blaring, “Shinola” and call it a day. At worst, maybe someone on CNN will say, “Some Democrats say it still stinks,” but the question will be forever left hanging when they cut to commercial. Today Big Food announced that it was changing the name of high fructose corn syrup to “corn sugar.” Just like that. It’s not as if it’s no longer the same obesity culprit that has crowded out more healthy and sustainable crops through its relentlessly finagled monopoly over America’s sweet tooth; the only problem was that the poison formerly known as “high fructose corn syrup” had become saddled with a bad name. As of today, with its new and improved name, this sinister substance been magically transformed into something so down-home, yet sexy, that one might even wax lyrical over it, just like the Archies. You are my candy, girl, and you’ve got me wanting you. (I went ahead and picked the Archies for Big Food’s surrogates, rather than, say, the Rolling Stones’ and their more politically delicate “Brown Sugar” for obvious reasons…)
Of course, such cynical adoption of manipulative, fake names for things to replace their more honest but no longer flattering real ones could never work so often, nor be tried even more often, in the presence on a sentient media. Sadly, though, we don’t have that here; if Jon Stewart doesn’t cover it, the rebranders have an even chance of making the new name stick, as we’ve seen with everything from wars to corporate scofflaws. Does anyone remember that Altria is a tobacco company? Can anyone name all the many names given to our debacle in Iraq over the years? The real name of the “Death Tax? Pour a little sugar on me, Baby.
A poll released today shows that despite the ostentatious media outpouring over the awesomeness and unbeatability of the Republicans this fall, what few Republican policies that have been accidentally leaked by this media-averse bunch are about as popular as crabs in a whorehouse. Though only 45% of people think the health care bill was much, only 32%, most of whom are on Medicare, want to see it repealed. Less than that want the tax cuts extended if they include those to the rich, and a thin plurality don’t want the 14th Amendment fiddled with, either. (Ain’t America grand?) The other expensive Republican mistresses always in need of lavish taxpayer support, the war machine and the pollution/sprawl industries, have been subtly left out of the conversation, for good reason, but I’d like to see a poll about that, too. Call it what you will, “taking America back,” when actually outlined to real voters, is the last thing anyone but the craziest (and most cynical) want. But you have to hand it to Republicans; they know no one wants what they’re selling, and they know renaming it might not be enough, so they’re moving to Plan B: At Least We’re White.
For all the overconfident bluster, the GOP is still unable to level with America and win, and as such must conjure up not just new names for themselves, but for everyone else, too. Thus, the bland, overcautious Obama Administration must be rebranded every six months, from socialist to communist to fascist to the latest, something called “anti-colonial Kenyan,” with breathtaking speed and the attendant widespread amnesia such speed requires. Tiny tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, cynically planted by Bush’s deceptive budgeting to take place anyway, are turned into dark attempts at wealth redistribution and class warfare. (The bad kind…) Widespread harrumphs from the media and outright guffaws from the left at Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin’s cheesy cashing-in on 9/11 and the righty noise machine that lives for it have been miraculously transformed into, get this, an attempt to destroy capitalism, according to “professor” Glenn Beck. If these guys are riding so high, couldn’t they get somebody better to write their material?
It’s going to take more than a spoonful of sugar to make the GOP’s medicine go down, and they obviously know it.