Monday, December 03, 2007
Bush Dead-Enders: the Sin of Pride
My discussions lasted over the course of several months, in the form of email exchanges that sometimes became rather nasty. I was at least as responsible as my counterparts for the nastiness of the exchanges. No surprise. In this Karl Rove era of politics, there are few reasoned debates; instead, demonization, smear, and humiliation are the tools used to browbeat opponents into silence. (And I can play that way, if you want.)
The problem for Republicans is that the people that Rove targeted for support (mostly under-educated evangelicals and reactionary bigots) are generally not capable of understanding (let alone articulating) the mind-twisting arguments that must be used to justify the policies that the administration promulgated. Therefore, Rove aimed for the lowest common denominator with easy-to-grasp slogans and innuendo: Democrats are soft on terror; the terrorists hate us for our freedom; we must fight them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here.
Well, the exchanges I have had with Bush supporters are textbook Rove. Just a few examples:
Regarding the Iraq invasion
Bush Supporter: We had to invade Iraq in response to 911.
Dade: Saddam had nothing to do with 911. But, even if that were true, more innocent people have been killed in the Iraq invasion than were killed in 911.
BS: We have to confront the terrorists, even if they hide behind the innocent.
Dade: So, how many innocent people should be killed in response to 911?
BS: That's a rhetorical question.
Dade: No, it's an empirical question. You've advocated invading Iraq. You know that, in an invasion, innocent people will be killed. Therefore, how many innocent people can be killed in order for the invasion to remain justified?
BS: As many as it takes!*
Regarding Cheney and Halliburton
Dade: Cheney's ties to Halliburton are unethical. He is the former CEO, and the company was on the verge of bankruptcy when he became vice-president. After the Iraq invasion, of which Cheney was one of the chief proponents, Halliburton was awarded billions of dollars in federal contracts without being subjected to competitive bidding.
BS: That doesn't mean there is a conspiracy.
Dade: But those are the facts.
BS: Facts can lie!*
Other random goodies
BS: I don't advocate torture .... We are treating illegal combatants alot [sic] better than we should*
BS: I'm not afraid of terrorists. I just see them as a threat*
BS: Given my current situation, the best way I can support the troops is to continue to communicate the virtue of their mission and sacrifice. *
BS: The President has ALWAYS had the power to suspend Habeus [sic]! It's written into the Constitution!*
BS: Those opposed to the war are free to speak - I'm free to characterize them as cowards (ain't free speech great!).*
*These are actual quotations.
Well, even a hard-core Bush supporter has trouble keeping a straight face when spouting this kind of drivel. But it occurs to me that it is not really about logic or reason; it's about identity. Karl Rove convinced the Republican "base" to ignore facts and base its support on the (false) belief that Bush was one of them. The implied message behind all the propaganda put forth by the administration and its accomplices in the media is that Junior is like you (the conservative base); he's not a godless big-city liberal. He believes in the Bible. He says what he means. He does not waver in his principles. When the Democrats/liberals/gays/peace activists attack Bush, they are attacking you; they are attacking your way of life, your creed.
If you can sell this line to people, you've got a power base that will stick with you through thick and thin. After all, for these people to suddenly accept the facts and admit that Bush is a liar, an incompetent, a demagogue, would be to admit that they have been woefully befooled. The Bush administration has counted on this unbending support; indeed, they wield it like a cudgel, threatening the pathetic Democratic leadership whenever the latter makes even a pretense at defying them.
Well, people, this is what happens when you put the yahoos in charge. If I sound contemptuous, rest assured that the contempt I have toward Bush supporters pales when compared to the contempt in which they are held by the Bush administration itself.
We're mired in war, facing financial ruin, and paralyzed with animosity and mistrust. The paltry 25% of the population that still supports Bush are, for now, standing in the way of real progress and redress in order to save themselves from the humiliation of admitting that they were wrong to believe in this failure of a man, George W. Bush. They demonstrate so painfully and clearly the truth of Catholic teachings: the sin of Pride is deadly, indeed.