Thursday, November 04, 2004


The Day All The Kittens Died

Well, the good news is that, effective immediately, 51% of voting Americans will get the government they deserve. The problem with that, of course, is that another 48% of voting Americans, many non-voting Americans, and all Americans age 17 and under will also get the government that the first 51% deserves.

This was accomplished by what was without a doubt the most unprincipled, misleading, and negative campaign ever, which is saying something. (There have been worse, but not since the U.S. has been a global superpower.) In the words of Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine, the Bush campaign can be summed up in three words: "Fear, Smear, and God." To which we can add anti-gay bigotry, guns, mindless Bible-waving, and lots and lots and lots of lies.

The best analyses of the failure of the Kerry campaign are probably these: first, as Arianna Huffington angrily asserts in her post-election column, the Kerry campaign decided early on to tailor its appeal to moderate, fence-sitting, and soft-right Americans, rather than by galvanizing its already mobilized base; second, the Democratic party has no good means of getting its message across to less informed and less aware voters--that is, there is no Democratic counterpart to the "Republican noise machine"; third, we were too focused on "Anybody But Bush"; and lastly, people never warmed to John Kerry himself. He did seem to be saying things he thought people wanted to hear. For all his foibles, Bill Clinton was always well-liked by the electorate, and remains so today. Kerry, by contrast, seemed somewhat cold, and left people feeling that way about him.

But really, what Kerry, traditional American values, and liberal decency ran into in this election was a ruthless, concentrated, persistent campaign of disinformation, misdirection, and scurrilous negativity. In George Bush, who has a great deal of energy and not even a particle of self-doubt, it had its perfect bulldog; and in Karl Rove, its perfect Machiavelli. Rove, Bush & Co. managed to attack Kerry's strengths (a typical Rove gambit), deflect most of the significant issues against them, and minimize the rest by casting every debate in its own terms, all the while preying on the goodness and the anxieties of their non-core supporters. They got TV preachers to instruct their flocks, surrogates to do their dirty work, and managed to avoid leaving evidence. They never relented, never doubted, and never went positive. (Or as a friend of mine put it, Bush went positive in the end--the day before the election.)

The NeoRepublican Right will eventually self-destruct, because it is an indecent movement and Americans are a decent people. In the meantime, we all get what the 51% deserve: huge deficits, an endless foreign war, alienated allies, an opaque leadership process, hollow men (and/or women) on the Supreme Court, minority agendas forced down the throat of the majority, the continued gleeful hegemony of multinational corporations that are utterly amoral with regard to the national community, the dismantling of a century's worth of environmental progress, the end of Social Security, and probably a few other nasty surprises as well.

At least those who voted for Bush will be getting what they deserve. Me, I want a bumper sticker that says, "Proud to Live in a BLUE STATE."

And what has all this got to do with kittens? You've probably seen the e-card that lampoons Republican political strategies. In case you haven't, it shows a kitten running in panic from two puppet monsters that are chasing it. The legend reads, "Every time someone votes Republican, God kills a kitten."

© 2004 by The Quotidian Meander Co.
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