A group of Republican legislators proposes to rescind the 22ndAmendment to the American Constitution. This is the Amendment, passed after four terms of Franklin Roosevelt scared the bejesus out of Republicans, limiting a President to two terms in office. The legislators apparently believe that with continued Republican gains in Congress, they may be in a position to change the Constitution by 2006, in time to extend Bush’s benevolent work.
Of course, Bush must actually be re-elected in 2008, but that represents a mere technicality. Bush was appointed in 2000 by a Supreme Court whose capacity for critical thinking already resembled that of senior judges in the early Reich. By 2008, Bush will have loaded the Court with creatures who might have made splendid careers in the Holy Inquisition under Torquemada.
The Republican fallback plan for 2008 is to repeat the election of 2004, in which heavy vote fraud in places like Ohio gave Republicans their revenge for Democrats’ vote fraud in 1960. Republicans used to be more straitlaced about things like vote fraud. It was only the old Democratic political machines of the nation’s cities that supposedly practiced it with any regularity. But with the rise in political influence of America’s fundamentalists and neo-cons, Republicans have embraced vote fraud wholeheartedly. Fundamentalist pitchmen provided the party a splendid example of the advantages of fleecing their flocks. America’s neo-cons have decades of experience posing as disinterested academics advocating human slaughter as policy. If you really think about it, the plan seems sound, and the timing seems right. Its prospects look quite good.
It has my full support, simply because I believe America needs a belly full of Bush before the world can expect any relief from the country’s lunatic course. I know through long experience that what happens to the rest of the world carries little weight with most Americans. Since 9/11, America has been turning itself into a gated community, bristling with ferocious weapons, vis-Ã -vis the rest of the world, and the truth is we don’t hear much outrage about it from America herself.
Americans are stubborn people, convinced of the virtue of whatever they do – even today you’d be hard put to convince many that cremating, poisoning, and blowing apart three million Vietnamese was anything other than heroic self-sacrifice in the name of freedom – so it takes a long time to alter course in America. Steering one of those gigantic super-tankers where you have to anticipate your turn miles ahead is almost child’s play by comparison.
Lies have always been used to promote wars, and America’s wars, despite the nation’s ongoing flirtation with democracy, have been absolutely no different in character to those of despots over the centuries. We could say that it will be the test of democratic maturity when the American people are consulted and told honestly why they are being asked to start a war, but that seems unlikely to happen in our lifetime.
Apart from the ugly lies before wars, remember that America’s most weighty contribution to world culture is exceedingly refined techniques of marketing, a smarmy art developed in the course of the nation’s historic, headlong rush to get rich. So many things in American life – goods, services, religion, and even elections – have more marketing in them than content. Much of American life has about it the quality of "Have a nice day!" from a computerized phone system.
So I don’t understand why any Americans are surprised at Bush’s shameless lies. He’s almost turned lying into a form of stand-up comedy. As soon as one lie’s usefulness is ended, he smirkingly substitutes another, without pausing to consider any need for continuity between the two. It is hilarious to watch the leader of a great nation doing this, at least so long as you are not one of his victims.
The real puzzle is why Americans keep buying tickets to his act. Perhaps, with American media always larded with subtle to blatant lies for commercial marketing and politics, responses to other, greater lies are numbed. Perhaps, America really just doesn’t much care.
Orwell was wrong in 1984 putting forward the idea of the Party’s gradually eliminating words to control people’s ability to think and speak critically. He was of course parodying the Soviet Union which to some extent did follow the practice. But the repressive old Soviet Union is gone while America thrives, constantly inventing new words – marketing gibberish, psycho-babble, political rubbish, science-fiction religion – which strives to puff up nothing into something. In America, you can literally fill a small library with books and magazines on any number of subjects from education to health that contain nothing genuinely furthering human understanding.
Marketing turns out to work better than repression over the long term, although the forces of repression are always there in America to offer assistance in dark corners. Hitler himself could not have asked for a set of laws more devious than the Patriot Act. Its continued existence stands as a monument to American political dull-wittedness. Just as bestial torture cages abroad demonstrate the nation’s lack of interest in anything thought not to affect America.
But as the best evidence of America’s unhealthy condition, I give you People’s Exhibit Number One, the fact that Bush is in office and his polls are still not as low as the nation’s ever-hopeful, hopeless liberals would like to believe. After all, vote fraud doesn’t work where the vote wasn’t already close.