When I was divorcing my first wife, it was painful to realize I’d made major mistakes during the marriage. When I was divorcing my second wife, it was painful to realize I’d made major mistakes during the marriage. As I am divorcing my third wife, it’s painful to realize I’d made a major mistake before the marriage, which I’d guess happened sometime right around the proposal phase.
Besides teaching me a thing or three about my apparent latent masochistic tendencies, my reddened, puffy eyes were also opened to just how difficult it is to admit one has been monumentally, incredibly, arrogantly, stupidly, blindly, flat-ass wrong about certain things.
But enough about my ex-wives’ shortcomings. (Note to #3, from whom I am not yet legally unhitched: Just kidding!)
Despite all indications to the contrary, this is NOT a divorce column (mainly because I’m saving the material for a mini-series; whaddya think: one more and I’m there?). What I’m really alluding to is how hard it is for humans (or Republicans, even) to acknowledge they have been terribly mistaken. Furthermore, a gut-wrenching awakening isn’t even the worst part; that comes when one begins the sheer drudgery of changing oneself. Since the enjoyment factor of such toil is often roughly equivalent to that of, oh, having all of one’s toes slowly amputated with a dull blade with no anesthetic or, say, listening to Rush Limbaugh (uh, so how long will the procedure take again, doc?), resistance is natural.
Polls show a majority of Americans have had it with George W. Bush and the war. While I’m usually wary of such reports (especially since in the last two American presidential “elections”, exit polls, which for decades were unfailingly accurate, have been so strangely incorrect), I nonetheless think these numbers reflect some truth. If so, there has (finally) been some consciousness-raisin’ goin’ on in our beleaguered, buggered nation, which means, in turn, that as people horrifyingly begin seeing the blood on their hands, America’s collective stress level will continually elevate ever higher.
This can lead to some pretty weird stuff. For instance, have you heard about people’s heads just popping straight off their bodies lately from all the pressure? No?? Well, neither have I, but in case it happens, just remember: You read it here first. Here’s something daft that actually has occurred, though: babies on “no-fly” lists. Honestly: no kidding about the no kidding. Maybe the Bushies figure that because they want to build baby nukes, terrorists will counteract that by building baby bombs. Real baby bombs. (I suppose you could pack a helluva lot of explosives inside one of those things; just don’t burp ‘em before boarding.) Frankly, I think what naturally comes out of babies would be just as deadly. Plus, it’s free, in endless supply, and still legal, I’m pretty sure, in 46 states and most U.S. territories.
Irrespective, though, of sudden noggin-launchings and exploding infants, it’s obvious to anyone who follows such things (which should be every American, but…) that the frenzied umbrage from right-wingers over Cindy Sheehan is breathtakingly, extraordinarily vile. Even for them. (Limbaugh insanely proclaimed, “Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There’s nothing about it that’s real.” Uh, another Oxy, Rush?)
I’ve been wrong before (see: opening paragraph), but I contend that a fair amount of this hyperventilated, hysterical hyperbole stems from the stomach-twisting realizations by some previously blood-lusting Americans that their support for the murderous Bush policies has been tragically misplaced. Since the last thing anyone wants to do is admit his/her (non)actions have helped kill, oh, over 100,000 people and made the lives of countless others an utter living hell, many will fight taking that bitter pill till the bitter end, with the resultant fall-out looking (and sounding) exceptionally ugly.
Attacks on Sheehan were (pathetically) inevitable. What’s been notable, though, as mentioned, has been their remarkable viciousness, symptomatic of, on an individual basis, instinctive resistance to painful self-examination, and, for the right as a whole, last-gasp desperation as it faces plummeting support for the war.
Trashing Sheehan is also the absolute stupidest approach right-wingers could take to help further their “cause.” Even if most of them have not yet seen the blinding light and still are deep in denial about how utterly evil the war is (and they are), don’t they at least have enough brains not to attack a dead soldier’s bereaved mother?
Well, yes and no. It also depends on whose cause we’re really talking about.
The ruling right may deny their culpability in the disaster that is Iraq (and they do), but there’s no denying the evil genius of their much larger plan of many years’ making, the one that has seen them use their well-funded think tanks to co-opt the language and thus frame the debate; buy up and consolidate media outlets to Limbaugh-ize their message; intentionally eliminate social safety nets to keep Americans scrambling so hard just to survive they feel they’ve no time for politics; demonize and dismantle labor unions; offer easy credit and brainwash Americans into believing happiness is only one purchase away even as they suffocate under mountains of debt; and, oh yeah, fix critical elections, all of which has worked gloriously well to serve the sole, true cause of the fascists at the helm: to secure as much as possible for them, and leave as little as possible for everyone else.
Conversely, they really aren’t all that smart, either. After all, how intelligent is it to think you can take over the world? Not very, and, believe me, I know. See, a couple decades back, some buddies and I were bored, so we decided to try it one weekend (we may also have been drinking voluminously). We overran only a couple of small, inconsequential nations (I forget which ones, but they had foreign-sounding names) before we were repulsed. (Actually, our temporary “subjects” were more repulsed, but that’s another story. Besides, I’ve served my time.)
Thus, from my own hazy, personal experience: becoming world emperor simply ain’t as easy as it sounds.
Perhaps the most disgustingly effective component of the power players’ plan, though, is that they have sold millions of Americans on the idea that mi cause es su cause, when, in reality, everything the Bushies and ilk do is complete anathema to the well-being of their blind, parrot-like supporters. The insidious advertising that every American endures from birth incessantly preaches about the curative wonders of this nation’s true religion (consumerism), in turn compelling non-stop tithing to the true high priests of the land (corporations), thus keeping the boss pigs in hog heaven while untold tons of useless crap are continuously purchased from them and then thrown away. Couple that with the dogma drummed into every American’s head that we inarguably live in “the greatest country in the world” (only 20 percent of Americans hold passports, so how would they know?), and you’ve got yourself a paradise tailor-made for unscrupulous capitalists.
Thank goodness there aren’t many of those around.
‘Tis sweet slop for those at the head of the trough, all right. Not so good for the suckers who keep defending and buying into it -- and keep buying, period, which, of course, is the whole point from the profiteers’ standpoint, making it imperative to keep everyone in line (preferably of the checkout variety). What better way to encourage Americans to unwittingly continue cutting their own figurative throats than by keeping them in a constant state of distraction by insisting that everyone must always be afraid, very afraid? (But please stop at the mall first before proceeding home and cowering.)
Constantly beware the ubiquitous terrorists! Frank Gaffney, a columnist for the Sun Myung Moon-owned and Bush boot-licking Washington Times, was on News Hour with Jim Lehrer the other day. He is a founding member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), whose 90-page, September 2000 report “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” serves as the very blueprint for Bush’s disastrous imperialism. In Gaffney’s spare time, he serves as president of the Center for Security Policy which, apparently with tongue planted firmly outside of cheek, claims it is a “non-partisan organization committed to the time-tested philosophy of promoting international peace through American strength.” Among its membership (per the Center for Media and Democracy) are well-known moderates like Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle, thereby verifying its obvious non-bias.
With sparkling middle-of-the-road credentials like that, imagine my shock when Gaffney took a typically Rovian back-handed slap at Sheehan by saying that “as a mother who lost a son…she deserves both our gratitude and our sympathy. But I think she clearly has morphed in recent days, perhaps to some extent at the hands of others…” He then, naturally, went on to imply her actions aid terrorists.
I’ve apparently long had the wrong idea about gratitude and sympathy.
Gaffney, in his $12,000 suit (admittedly, this figure may be inaccurate; it’s likely much too low), was only warming up to his primary message, for it wasn’t long before he predictably played the fear card: “This [the “war on terror”] is, in fact, a global war against a hostile ideology,” he grimly intoned. “I call it ‘Islamofascism.’ It will not be appeased. It will only redouble its efforts if we cut and run.”
It could only be the front half of that ideology that bothers him since he obviously has no qualms about the second part as long as it’s of the good, old American variety, considering he, the rag for which he propagandizes, and the groups with which he associates all play roles to one degree or another in the ongoing, deliberate ruin of the American democratic process and the employment of brute U.S. force throughout the world.
Gaffney also reeled off this beaut: “The cutting and running that they [the terrorists] precipitated in Lebanon and in Somalia may be replicated here [in America] but with infinitely more dire consequences because this is, indeed, a global war and they will come after us here at home.”
While I wasn’t (unsuccessfully) resisting the urge to swear at the TV as I watched this nauseating performance, I was laughing sardonically, because Gaffney’s implicit assertion -- that unless we continue mainlining billions to Halliburton and Lockheed-Martin while blithely killing thousands of democracy-craving Iraqis in the process, our streets will teem with swarthy, turbaned killers forcing us to feverishly build mosques and shop at America’s new number one retailer, Allah-Mart -- is just so, uh, sardonically laughable.
The fact is, it is extremely unlikely America will ever be destroyed from without, but it sure as hell can from within, as it is this very moment, with soulless, fear-mongering predators like Gaffney and his PNAC pals leading the charge. Just one nanosecond’s worth of reflection exposes the absolute absurdity of his insinuation.
But, then, that’s been the central problem all along: the lack of even cursory examination by millions of Americans, resulting in their failing themselves, their society, and their world by jingoistically and empty-headedly endorsing, explicitly or otherwise, the very things that destroy them -- and us.
They unquestioningly buy into bullshit like Gaffney’s. They consistently confuse belligerent nationalism with patriotism. They ignorantly sacrifice constitutional rights for fake security. They thoroughly give in to fear when courage is called for.
No wonder Bush appeals to them.
That’s a full starter list of dismal stuff they’ve gullibly swallowed, and there’s a lot more where that came from. But nobody likes to be had. So, as the body count and, as a friend suggested, gas prices, start getting a little too high and personally affecting more Americans, and as the awareness finally starts to creep in that Dubya and crew have been selling them shiploads of eagerly-bought snake oil from the very beginning, the wailing and protesting born of painful self-realization begin.
Once the seed has been planted, though, it begins to grow, and before you know it, it starts looking like a vegetable or maybe even a tree, depending on what kind of seed it was, and then, with proper fertilization and watering, it…damn! I hate it when an analogy breaks. (I’d just bought it, too.) Sorry.
Anyway, once awareness starts, there’s (ideally) no going back, which is one reason denial has a lot going for it, because who really wants to slog through that whole tiresome self-discovery thing? (‘Course, if it can preclude a bad marriage or several…)
What is happening now with some on the right is akin to junkies or drunks going through withdrawal. (The image of someone being addicted to Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly is almost too gross to contemplate, but so is addiction to any harmful subhuman, er, substance.) Former war/Bushco supporters, drugged by their own denial, are starting to “come to,” trying to shake off all the rottenness of their deadly, previously-held beliefs. The process is unsightly and rude, often manifesting itself in bizarre outbursts, but it’s also unequivocally necessary if we are ever to gather enough people power to both get U.S. troops out of Iraq, and our country back.
As with recovering alkies and dopers, a replacement of a sane and spiritual nature must be found for the huge, stinking, black masses of sickness that have been infecting too many craniums and souls in this country.
The millions of us who have been on to the Bushian bastards for a good, long while now have the perfect medicine at our disposal: Truth. Let’s keep dispensing it in large, healthy doses, and, with noses held tightly if need be, welcome newly-aware Americans to the fold. While their epiphanies come far too late for so many, it’s still about damn time.
Mark Drolette is a political satirist/commentator who lives in Sacramento, California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his website address is www.markdrolette.com/. Copyright © 2005 Mark Drolette. All rights reserved.
Other Articles by Mark Drolette *
Yes-Surreal-Bob, Those Real Americans are Really Something
Other Articles by Mark Drolette
Yes-Surreal-Bob, Those Real Americans are Really Something