All we have to fear is fear itself

And it looks like fear will be the only message coming from the collective mouths of the Republican Party.

President Bush and his surrogates are launching a new campaign intended to rebuild support for the war in Iraq by accusing the opposition of aiming to appease terrorists and cut off funding for troops on the battlefield, charges that many Democrats say distort their stated positions.

With an appearance before the American Legion in Salt Lake City today, Bush will begin a series of speeches over 20 days centered on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But he and his top lieutenants have foreshadowed in recent days the thrust of the effort to put Democrats on the defensive with rhetoric that has further inflamed an already emotional debate.

It worked the last time. Remember the TV ad with the wolves ready to descend and kill us all if we elected John Kerry? The only question now is whether Americans can possibly be so stupid as to let it work again. It was a year ago today in New Orleans that we all saw with our own eyes just how splendidly this administration can protect its citizens from harm. They did a heckuva job, demonstrating all they’d learned from 911 when it comes to managing a crisis. It’s good to know we’re in safe hands, unsullied by patronage and cronyism.

As we all know by now, fear is the only weapon they have left, and unfortunately Karl Rove knows well how to apply it. Although a majority of Americans are now against the war in Iraq, prepare to hear the Democrats who agree denounced as quitters, Neville Chamberlains, cut and runners, cowards, and friends to terrorists. Once again, the Republicans have thought out their talking points with meticulous calculation, and as the election fast approaches you’ll see the Wurlitzer pumping these messages out tirelessly, with Drudge, Limbaugh and Michelle controlling the levers.

What about the Democrats? What are their messages and talking points? As the cliche goes, the only thing that can keep the Republicans in power is the Democrats. If I don’t see signs that they (Dems) can coordinate their messages and thwart the kind of brainwashing we saw Rove perform in 2004, then I will not be at all surprised if the upcoming election is a major disappointment. The voters want to know what the candidates stand for. What the Republicans are saying they stand for is complete and utter crap, but at least they give the voters an image, a picture, a theme. With the Dems, even now, all we see is disorganization and in-fighting. Can’t we all get along and create a unified front, at least for a couple of months, so we can boot the GOP out of Congress? That’s all that matters. After the election, resume your feuding. But for now, we need to stand together to fight off the tidal wave of Republican propaganda heading straight in our direction.They know exactly where your weak spots are and they will expoit them with zero mercy. Time for us to do the same to them, and God knows today’s GOP has weak spots aplenty.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

Screw fear, and screw politicians who use fear to market themselves. Vote the bums out. I have far, far better things to do than be told by politicians who I need to be afraid of. I’m an adult and I know goddamn well who I need to be afraid of. If George Bush wants to make me safer he can talk to the Chinese about getting taxi drivers do drive more safely. Especially the night shift guys who are always dangerously close to edge of hallucination, juding by all the swerving to avoid objects only they can see.

My chances of being killed by a terrorist: .0000001%

My chances of being killed by bad dumplings: .1%

My chances of being killed by a taxi driver: 10%

My chances of being killed by Beijing’s pollution: 50%.

And I don’t want to hear that my chances of being killed by a terrorist are so low thanks to the hard-pumping machismo of the Bush administration. With all due respect to the unfortunate people who have been victims of terrorism, they are vanishingly low for any individual.

As Bruce Scheier has pointed out many times, it’s not what makes the news that you have to worry about. It makes the news precisely because it’s rare, and thus merits attention and shock. It’s the everyday things that don’t make the news that are much more likely to get you.

Note that none of this means that sensible security and sound police work and diplomacy should be abandoned. They shouldn’t. But the terrorism debate is the centerpiece of our political process only if we allow it to be.

August 31, 2006 @ 1:25 am | Comment

Wow, I am impressed, Will. I never knew you could get so outraged over politics. Beautifully said (as always). And I love those statistics.

Head over to Right Blogistan and all you’ll hear is talk of sleeper cells ready to cut our throats the instant we elect a Democrat. All you have to do is bring up statistics like these, and you’ll be branded a friend to terrorists and a hater of America. Strange times.

August 31, 2006 @ 1:31 am | Comment

Well I’m from San Francisco, had leftist parents (they’ve mainstreamed over the years), went to UC Santa Cruz and live in China, so I’m clearly beyond the pale already as far as the right-wing blogosphere is concerned. I might as well be Che Guevara.

Boy, I sure wrote that fast, I note, looking over all the typos.

August 31, 2006 @ 1:49 am | Comment

My chance of committing suicide if Condoleeza Rice wins the next Presidential election: 99 percent, conditional on whether massive doses of Xanax become available to me.

August 31, 2006 @ 1:52 am | Comment

Fortunately for all of us the chances of President Condi are about the same as those of me being killed in a terrorist attack. Not that I wouldn’t be thrilled with a black woman as president; it’s just that I think she’s somewhat charisma challenged.

On the other hand, if I *am* killed in a terrorist attack, you may wish to get on the web and order up that Xanax.

August 31, 2006 @ 3:21 am | Comment

Oh, it couldn’t be that bad. Imagine Condoleeza Rice giving the State of the Union in knee-high leather boots. And I keep thinking whips have to be part of it somehow.

August 31, 2006 @ 8:13 am | Comment

[i]But the terrorism debate is the centerpiece of our political process only if we allow it to be.[/i]

I forgot who it was (Steven Lukes maybe?) that said true political power isn’t merely the ability to set the agenda for discussion, but to profoundly change the way people think about their interests.

And at that the Republican party has been quite proficient (though still an amateur compared to the CCP.) Even now, with an unwinnable war severely undermining the credibility and moral authority of the regime, the Democrats are still very much on the defensive – reactionary rather than visionary. Like Richard said, they’ve got no strategy, which is unfortunately considering that this time round the elections are theirs to lose.

August 31, 2006 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

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