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Thursday, September 02, 2004

How to abuse patriotism

Well, if you caught the speeches last night, you know now that a vote against President Bush is tantamount to a vote against America. You love America, don't you? Don't you! Well, how can you dissent against the President and love America?!!!


....


Sorry about that. A bit of Zell Miller got into me. Anyway, I found the speeches last night pretty offensive, in that they basically called Kerry and any opponent un-American. Which is just a horrific way to talk and act. In '84, at the height of the Cold War, did Reagan ever call Mondale un-American? Exactly, but it seems the GOP just wants to take certain things from Reagan, not all of them.


Again, I refer you to Slate's William Saletan, who has as solid a handle on these speeches as anyone around.


When Bush addressed Congress after 9/11, Democrats embraced and applauded him. In the Afghan war, they gave him everything he asked for. Most Democratic senators, including John Kerry and John Edwards, voted to give him the authority to use force in Iraq. During and after the war, they praised Iraq's liberation. Kerry has never said that any other country should decide when the United States is entitled to defend itself.

But the important thing isn't the falsity of the charges, which Republicans continue to repeat despite press reports debunking them. The important thing is that the GOP is trying to quash criticism of the president simply because it's criticism of the president. The election is becoming a referendum on democracy.


That last line is key, because it strikes at a vital truth. In this election more than any other, criticism is being equated with un-Americanism. And the Democrats are not without blame in the demonization game either. But the Bush team is bringing it to a new level. If you can't criticise the President or hold him accountable, then why have elections? We may as well be Egypt, with the trappings of a democracy and little else.


Saletan again:


In a democracy, the commander in chief works for you. You hire him when you elect him. You watch him do the job. If he makes good decisions and serves your interests, you rehire him. If he doesn't, you fire him by voting for his opponent in the next election.

Not every country works this way. In some countries, the commander in chief builds a propaganda apparatus that equates him with the military and the nation. If you object that he's making bad decisions and disserving the national interest, you're accused of weakening the nation, undermining its security, sabotaging the commander in chief, and serving a foreign power—the very charges Miller leveled tonight against Bush's critics. Are you prepared to become one of those countries? (emphasis added)


"Wait!" some of you say. "Miller never said that! You're just a shill, Teddy!!" Oh?


From Zell ("Buchannan has nothing on me") Miller's speech:


While young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our Commander-in-Chief.

Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.

In [Democratic leaders'] warped way of thinking, America is the problem, not the solution. They don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself.

Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending. I want Bush to decide.


I especially loathe the first line. Essentially, Miller is saying that dissent is destroying America, so stop it already. Forget those pesky rights you have, or the fact we have a government built on the very principle that leaders are answerable to the populace.


That makes me want to puke.


So here is a campaign based not on telling us their accomplishments (because there aren't many worth bragging about), but rather set around slandering and impugning the decency of their opponents. If you want to reward that, then vote for Bush.


I'll leave off with a last Saletan quote:


...there are three ways to make national security a campaign issue. One is to argue the facts of a particular question, as Kerry has done in Iraq. The second is to sweep aside all factual questions, as Cheney and Miller did tonight, with a categorical charge that the other party is indifferent or hostile to the country's safety. The third is to create a handy political fight, as Republicans did two years ago on the question of labor rights in the Department of Homeland Security, and frame it falsely as a national security issue in order to win an election.

So now you have two reasons to show up at the polls in November. One is to stop Bush from screwing up economic and foreign policy more than he already has. The other is to remind him and his propagandists that even after 9/11, you still have that right.


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