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End of the Road?
by Peter Kurth
November 3, 2004

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[Editor's Note: This essay was written on November 2, before the election results became known]

In the first place, I would like to thank Osama Bin Laden, formerly of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tora Bora, Afghanistan, all kinds of “caves” in that part of the world and now, clearly, a very comfortable room, somewhere, that any little Arab with video equipment can run into and out of at will.

Whew! I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in this “intelligence” stuff. I think Bin Laden has intelligence of his own, and that it’s something our own “intelligence” people can’t fathom.

In fact, I’m sure this is true. Bin Laden is precisely attuned to the things that turn Americans into maniacs.

“I will tell you about the reasons behind these attacks,” he says in his latest tape, “and will tell you the truth about the moments during which the decision was made, for you to contemplate.”

Contemplate? Goddamn. We all do yoga, and run, and exercise, and meditate, and sweat, and clap ourselves on the back, and forego starch and carbs. And try to be faithful, if we possibly can, to our spouses – although, when you come down to it, what’s the harm in falling short of any of these goals? We’re trying, you see? And if there’s one of us – even one of us – who’d give up “lifestyle” to meet the rest of the world head-on, that person should speak up now. Because Bin Laden thinks there isn’t.

“Even as you enter the fourth year after the Sept. 11 attacks,” he says, “Bush is still misleading and deluding you.” Bush is confusing you. Bush is counting on you to be a frightened little rabbit, which – if he's won this election – you are.

My deadline is such that I can’t know the winner of the presidential race by the time the text is put in. Still, in these last days, I note two things:

1) Bush is strutting around pretending that “Freedom is on the march.”

2) Kerry, whose advisors are the sorriest lot of paid incompetents since Edsel Ford’s, is catching footballs on film. This is the first, last and permanent sign of his weakness. Bush can be glad that he was opposed by such a nothing – a public ball-catcher – so that he might look better in comparison.

Deep breath!

It’s the first time in this column that I’ve said what I really think about John Kerry. I’ve avoided attacking or criticizing him, because I’m one of those “Anyone But Bush” people, and would rather see Courtney Love, Winona Ryder, Scott Peterson – any failure you can think of – as president before Mrs. Bush’s little boy.

Thus, as I say, I’m grateful to Osama Bin Laden, for giving me something to write about at a time in American life when there is nothing left to say. “Osama Bin,” I should call him, the way Texans do -- “Billy Bob,” “Johnny Frank,” “Tammy Sue,” etc. Half of my family is from Texas – my father’s half -- and I can assure you that he was called “Billy Fred” all of his life, until my mother met him and knocked him upside the head.

You can also be sure that, if they really wanted to capture Osama Bin Laden, they could have done it by now. This is your “October Surprise.”

I went back through my archives today to see when the name of George W. Bush first entered this column, and in which context. To my surprise, I find that it was already in April 1998, when the repulsive Senator Trent Lott (R.-Miss), before he was sent packing for “racism,” declared that “homosexuality” was the equivalent of “alcoholism, or sex addiction, or kleptomania." And it was Dubya, believe it or not, at that time governor of Texas, who asked him to shut up, “urging all Republicans,” as the record states, “to focus on our common goal of electing Republicans based on our conservative philosophy."

In other words, fool them now, trick them later – the essence of the Bush regime. Dubya didn’t show up in my essays again for another year (1999), when the Ten Commandments, hanging on the walls of public buildings, “suddenly” raised a ruckus, and he came out to talk about his piety, and I persisted in believing, in the face of every news report, that the Bush family’s purpose is about something other than God.

“Can you believe all the money flying around?” I wrote. “Neither can I. Texas Governor George `W’ Bush pokes his head around the corner and $35 million spews forth like Old Faithful – just like that! -- the largest wad of cash any candidate for president has so far amassed to buy an election.”

We can all fall down laughing, now, knowing that our politics have become about nothing but money. By February 2000 I was already reduced to diatribe:

“Dubya” Bush won the Republican straw poll in Iowa on Saturday because, frankly, money is no object, and, frankly, money is no object.

Bush has been all but crowned already by a media that can’t find enough wrong with Al Gore. His candidacy will doubtless survive the continuing question, burning to all Americans, of his “former cocaine use.” That he has also used what everyone, ducking their heads and tugging at their forelocks, calls “the f-word,” in an interview with Tucker Carlson in Tina Brown’s Talk magazine, only increases his appeal. That he is dumb as a post seems to matter to no one.

Steve Forbes came in second in the Iowa poll, because he offered lollipops, Debby Boone, and an air-conditioned tent to the people he’d bussed, fed and paid to vote for him. Anyone who came to the poll at Forbes’ expense was required to sign a document saying, "I, the undersigned, pledge to support Steve Forbes." There is a certain honesty in this approach. You get what you pay for.

Right. And if you’ve had your eyes open, or read anything, or been anywhere in this last year, you’ll know that this is exactly what Bush and his goons now require of anyone who wants to come near him. You have to sign a document – do you understand? -- pledging your support. And, if you don’t, you’ll end up arrested for “disorderly conduct.”

But this isn’t my concern anymore. A stupid people deserve a stupid fate. And the course of American democracy, no matter who wins the presidency, will be determined more by Osama than by us.

Peter Kurth is the author of international bestselling books including Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, Isadora: A Sensational Life, and a biography of the anti-fascist journalist Dorothy Thompson, American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson. His essays have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, New York Times Book Review, and many others. Peter lives in Burlington, Vermont. He can be reached at: Visit his website at:


Other Articles by Peter Kurth


* Remembering Dorothy Thompson
* There's Nothing About Mary
* Time to Start Finishing
* Pass the Ammunition!
* Keep Petting That Goat!
* Religion in the News
* Beam Me Up, Mrs. Williams
* Such Emptiness! Such Depth of “Preparedness!”
* Absent on AIDS
* King James and King George

* Beheadings
* F--k this, Dick!
* Reagan Idiosis
* Chickenhawk Chic
* Letter to Mars
* Robbing "Defeat" to Pay "Appall"
* Standing Small
* Bible Time
* One Man's Flip Is Another Man's Flop
* Kee-reist is More Like It
* Star Wars
* The Breast That Ate Pittsburgh
* Monkey See, Monkey Do
* Crank Call
* A Cynic's Guide to the Top Stories of 2003
* Talking Turkey
* Let Them Drink Coke
* The Gang that Couldn’t Talk Straight On Iraq
* Party Rules