You Should Have Seen the Other Guy

Today a conservative caller who naturally identified himself as a Democrat called Thom Hartmann’s show to harshly criticize Obama’s Mission Accomplished, the Sequel, because it failed to praise effusively enough the genius of George Bush and the “success of the surge.”   This in itself wasn’t surprising, given that the round-the-clock devotion to the Legacy Project on the right makes such absurd assertions mandatory, these types of programmed troll-callers always proliferate in election seasons to read off the ticker tape, and none other than John Boehner had just said the same addlepated things the evening before.  But then the caller went on to say that given David Petraeus’ earth-shattering, seven year boondoggle and waste of blood and money in Iraq that did nothing but create a regional catastrophe and a triumph for Iran, was the sort of glorious victory  that would make Petraeus one of history’s greatest generals, especially after he (or his grandchildren) finish up in Afghanistan.  That’s what he said.  Really.  As in move over, Winston Churchill, George Marshall, and hell, Alexander the Great; David Petraeus bestrides the globe like a Colossus, for evermore.  And Bush will be on Mount Rushmore pretty soon, just you wait.  Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, liberal scum.

The point was, of course, to kick to the curb in passing while spraying perfume on the many piles of shit left behind by the Decider, neatly condensed into a twenty-second sound bite; but usually the material isn’t quite as hilariously outlandish as this; I sense a little fear under the outward overconfidence.  Whenever Republicans have several elephants, fittingly enough, in the living room that put their corruption and incompetence on vivid display, they do one of two things.  First, they explain that that animal in question isn’t an elephant at all, but merely a mouse with a thyroid condition, and when that doesn’t work, they explain that having elephants in the living room is the greatest thing since sliced bread and we should have more of them.  Wars, tax cuts, deficits, you name it, this always works, until it doesn’t, and Republicans must be aware that a lot of people have caught on to this.  So, they have two choices:  Pretend, like the media and Washington establishment, that the wars, though in the end unfortunate and utterly unnecessary,  seemed like good ideas at the time; or just go whole hog and glorify them as great and historic triumphs, medals rather than stains on the record of their heroes.  I have to hand it to them; choosing option two takes balls, if not brains.

Last time I checked, huge majorities of Americans, and even a plurality of Republicans, are resigned to the fact that Bush, the War(s), Petraeus, the Neocons and on and on were horrible mistakes that damaged the country, and have been saying that to pollsters since 2005 or so, and the media-hyped Republican sweep of 2010 will require the non-insane 75% of Americans to weigh in, too.  Endlessly repeating, and getting people to sort of believe that The Surge Worked, Republicans are ignoring the fact that most people are sick to death of war, and they associate it, rightly, with them.  But they can’t help it; Bush’s belligerence and chest-thumping defiance of the dreaded “International Law” aroused a deep vein of old-fashioned xenophobia and tribalism that has clearly proven too intoxicating to the right to let go of it now, even when it risks alienating more and more voters, particularly in the longer term.  To the authoritarian mind, which is the only kind left on the right these days, the truth must never be accepted when a lie would sound better, and unbelievers simply have to be eliminated.  Again, this strategy works wonders with a certain very committed sliver of the population, on policy matters both domestic and international, but the catastrophic failures it inevitably produces turns off the majority time and again.

After last night, when I got to hear the purported anti-Bush President even mildly praise our country’s worst President in a dishearteningly Neocon-ish speech, I dreaded the Democrat’s prospects in November, but then I heard today what may well be the Republicans’ new talking point for the fall (one doesn’t introduce new products in August, you know…) and my heart leapt. If the Republicans intend to roll out Bush and Iraq as the party’s signature success stories, Bring It On.   And if they think Iraq looks like victory, I’d hate to see what they think defeat looks like.   Let’s hope voters refresh their memories in November.


  1. dirigo says:

    Americans cannot countenance tragedy, no matter how obvious.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s pretty much it, isn’t it?

      • dirigo says:

        I mentioned in the earlier post and comments the Harper’s story, referring to a column by WaPo’s Kathleen Parker, who interpreted Glenn Beck’s D.C. rally as nothing more than a sort of 12 step confession.

        Stop and think about that, and the huzzahs accompanying it.

        How do you spell absurdist discombobulation?