Dehumanizing the Enemy

Over the last few weeks, the GW Bush camp has been attempting to humanize our Decider-in-Chief in order to up his approval ratings.  We saw the NYT article in which Bush Sr. talks about how hard it is to be the father of a sitting president.  And Bush Jr. has recently been crying on the friendly shoulder of Fox's Neil Cavuto about the fact that names CAN hurt him.  While not surprising, this attempt at controverting Bush's carefully constructed image as the brush-clearing, O'Doul's can-crushing cowboy is at least a little audacious.  And it makes me scratch my head as to how much of the public ire the Bush Co. actually brought on itself and how much is simply overhead from our (all-too-human) tendency to dehumanize the enemy.

When first contemplating the option that GW is actually incurring his just desserts, my initial impulse was to run through my standard litany of Bush evils: all the way from 2000 vote-stealing and caging lists through Gonzales and contempt of Congress.  But where does that get me?  We all avoid rehashing our regrettable moments (in fact, I make it a point NOT to document my Facts of Life rerun marathons for fear they may be used against me), and it's just part of the deal that when the president of a country has them, we all end up suffering.  But is it that simple?  Can any of the mistakes that I've made be placed on the same level as those of the Bush Co?  How much does intent matter, and how much of Bush's nonsense has been intentional?  "In other words," is Bush a fool or a knave?  And how much of a role should levels of responsibility and visibility play?  All of these questions may be relevant, but answering them doesn't seem likely to make it any easier to for me to watch a Bush speech.  As a result, I must explore other rationale for why I am so very deeply put off by the man.

So, this brings me to the parts played by image and dehumanization.  The thought that I am so easily swayed by style, is of course, somewhat disconcerting, but in all honesty, I may have been turned off by Bush before he ever became the Decider.  Even before I knew much about his lame Texas governorship (or really, anything significant about him), I was suspicious about the way he walked, the way he talked, and the entirety of his "bringing honor back to the White House" rhetoric.  Just looking at him reminded me of the smarmy, superficial frat boys I had known who had used their connections and underhanded tactics to get out of things like the Vietnam War and into things like the Air National Guard.  Which makes me wonder: In spite of all of my soap-box rhetoric and high ideals about America's place in the world, civil liberties, and social justice, do I loathe Bush for the same reasons that Republicans loathe Clinton?  Am I just as easily swayed by style as by substance?  And do I just use Bush's wrongdoings as an excuse to dehumanize him and call him names like "Geopolitical Warmonger", "Grossly Withoutcompetence", and "Grinning Weasel"?

The answer: I'm afraid I'll never know.

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The New American Unspoken Manifesto

I have been thinking lately about that old quote from Nobel prizewinning author Sinclair Lewis: "When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Thinking in terms of the past several years of the Bush 43 Administration, I can't help but draw many parallels; from the claims of "compassionate conservatism" to the current occupier of the White House consistently trotting out his faith, in a way to reassure that we're on the side of the angels and being led by a guy who is a really devotedly religious fellow. And we all know about the patriotism, or lack thereof, that have been regularly employed in an attempt to stifle any dissent. "Wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." How easy it would be to take over this country simply equipped with well-crafted and sellable rhetoric...

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Obama, War, and Unity

I have to say you Obama supporters are a feisty lot.  Yesterday I posted a challenge to all of you to sell me on him, and I got mixed responses.  Mostly, you questioned my intentions which is not helpful to the cause of expanding his base of support.  So I will tell you what could sell me, and then you can complain some more about my nastiness or facade.  First I want to see him flip the switch.  He has to knock Hillary out, she will not hand it to him, and to me his problem is that he is stuck being the unity candidate to the extent that to attack forcefully will be spun in the press as him not being true to the spirit of his candidacy.  Which is wrong, but since when is the press fair?  He may be rightfully worried about that, but he can't let that stop him from punching.  He has her cold on the war and that is obvious.  A few days ago he made some of his strongest comments yet on the subject, which is a good start.  Second, his innate strength has to be converted into confidence about his leadership skills.  I for one, have no concerns about his experience.  Experience is not the same as talent or a natural ability to lead, so that term serves as somewhat of a red herring.  The press again.  Now I have to make something clear:  Hillary has a major advantage when it comes to spin, her guys have won in the past and she is a veteran, so Barack has to learn fast, which he is, it just remains to be seen if his campaign can work the media to their advantage.  Which is the biggest cause for my pause of backing him up.  The Kerry disaster was an example of horrible campaign media handling.  It cost him, and us. Second, I think he is great on policy.  He has a good idea of what he wants the platform to look like, and he has the skills to get things passed.  So to repeat, his abilities as President I have no question about.  This is about winning.  That seems shallow, I admit.  The thing is Obama can not allow his kindness to be mistaken for his being a wimp.  Watch out for media elitists on this one.  Favorability is only worth as much as your ability to weather assaults.  On this count, I believe Hillary has an experience advantage.  Yet he is learning, and may prove me wrong.  Remember folks, Rezko is nothing, NOTHING compared to the storm he will face if he is nominated.  Edwards is my example of what happens when stories are handled horribly.  Why did we hear about the haircut for weeks?  Bad counter messaging that's why.  He dropped with me because of that.  You have to handle the inevitable media arrows with great aplomb in this business.  I love Edwards, but he has to do better.  We can't screw up again.  If I was running Obama's campaign, I would relentlessly corner Hillary on this war, and I would have him turn the discussion page from experience, to judgment.  On this count, he has Hillary beat when it comes to this war.  Third, the person we nominate has to be the very antithesis of Bush.  He has to stop being so bi-partisan.  I know this is a big part of his appeal, but we are nominating someone who we hope wins and cleans up this mess.  George W. Bush is relevant, and anyone with a 26 percent approval rating is fair game.  He has to make us feel that he, not Hillary is the ultimate Democrat.  And that starts with hammering this administration.  When Bill and Hillary tour and hammer Bush, they galvanize Democrats like me.  You may dislike that approach, but it is political reality.  

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Progressive versus Liberal. Does it Matter?

In one of the blogs there seems to be a discussion about the terms "progressive" and "liberal," and which is the better one to use.

Sitakh prefers embracing the term "liberal." Others like myself prefer "progressive." What do you prefer and why?  Is there even a difference?

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A Democratic mantra: should the government...

Toss the lofty rhetoric in the rubbish--check that--recycling bin. Or at the very least, employ the correct language to connect with the appropriate audience. To get those so-called disaffected Democrats back to the fold, dispose of 32-paragraph 'soundbites,' discard sound and sight of ANY and ALL statistics and flowcharts, deep six the PowerPoint presentations...

Go for the visceral, reach for the head, but more importantly, the heart. Offer transparent either/or propositions that paint a vivid philosophical difference. Very simplistically, here is how ANY and ALL Democrats should campaign.

   * should our government benefit the politicians in it and their friends or work for you?

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