The International Writers Magazine: US Election Comment
Captain Shoo-In Gets a Rousing Rubber Stamp
"Its not a lie, if you believe it." - Zelda Fitzgerald
Plus Readers Letters
Five years ago in
a rotten Orlando resort bar, I told Karl Rove he was a fucking genius.
We laughed a lot that night, mostly because we were really drunk. He
got a kick out of me. I got a kick out of him. And to his credit he
never ignored my warnings that his boy was in trouble against Al Gore,
and fought hard to see that the incubus was sent packing. But about
halfway through the evening I pointed out that it seemed fairly preposterous
that he or any of the brain trust behind the creation of George W. Bush,
God-Fearing Country Bumpkin, really believed it.
"We believe it, because George Bush believes it," Rove told
me. "He really believes hes born again," he slurred.
"Jesus got him off the drugs and booze and forgave him for doing
nothing and standing for nothing for 40 years, and he was going to take
advantage of being a rich Yaley and make a difference. And thats
something Al Gore never believed about himself. He only believed merely
being privileged makes him worthy. But the American people want to believe
the guy whos convinced himself hes one of them; a proud
American with a gun and a Bible who doesnt take shit from anyone."
I had more or less forgotten the details of that conversation, until
about three in the morning on election night when it became glaringly
apparent that regardless of what havoc could be wreaked by a president,
the electorate must trust that the guy they give the job to believes
the bullshit. And for all his mistakes and faults, George W. Bush believes
the job of this nation is to bring peace to the world with force and
the people must be ruled with fear, because force and fear is what got
Captain Shoo-In off the cocaine and the bottle and put him in the loving
arms of Jesus and gave him the strength to fight terror and all that
other nonsense. It was never political. Its real for George Bush,
and for reasons barely decipherable by even the weakest minds among
us, its real for America.
A solid majority of Americans have rubber stamped this president and
all that he believes. He is against Europe and international compromise
of any kind. He is willing to bag civil rights for safety. He thinks
the military is the best way to boost national morale. He is not sure
gays choose to be gay or whatever they are, but he is damn sure they
have no right to civil unions. He does not believe in vetoing anything
as long as his party is in charge of the legislative branch, and hes
keen on growing business over and above anything petty like environmental
issues. And boy does he believe in charging on the national debt. He
believes it, and in overwhelming numbers, so does America. Heres
something the Kerry camp never understood, that Bill Clintons
people copped too, and why a political fossil like James Carville was
whisked in too-little-too-late in the eleventh hour to manifest; the
majority of people in this country care even less about intellect and
privilege than they do about whiny foreigners and all that science mumbo
jumbo and sissy diplomacy and threatening dissent. They want to relate
to the fantasy model of the Everyman. They want a man who believes,
whether its asinine, insane or astoundingly feral. Kennedy believed
the bullshit. So did Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. These were believers.
They had it down. Thats why they won national elections. George
W. Bush is a believer. He is president, again.
John Kerry pretended to believe. He is going back to the senate.
This election tells us that more Americans want to love the flag and
God and mom and apple pie, and not all the stinging reality of cold
hard facts. They believe in the Shining City on the Hill. They want
someone who believes it too, no matter what. They want a president that
tells them the economy is coming around and the morally imperative war
is going well. God loves us. Were always right. Everyone else
can go to hell. No one wants to be called a sucker of government malfeasance
and victims of policy. Their kids arent fat, reality shows arent
infantile, abortion isnt choice, support the troops, and so on.
But the electorate is not entirely duped about this enormously flawed
president. Two-thirds of it thinks the countrys going in the wrong
direction and Iraq is madness. But the president believes in the madness.
John Kerry didnt believe his madness. You could feel it in the
stump speeches and in his uneven debate performances. Any jabbering
sop couldve pushed George Bush around in those debates. Bush hung
back, repeated the mantra: Man of my word, values, faith, pride, and
belief. This is what voters in predominant parts of this country want
to hear. Not long-winded tripe about deficits and policies or how were
Kerry went on and on about change. He wasnt going to change anything.
We only needed him to be president to take the stank of the Bush mistakes
off us. Change? About three hundred thousand of us voted for change.
The rest of you participated in choosing between the madness. The guy
who believed it, and the guy who made it up.
Turns out Zell Millers apoplectic lunacy at the convention three
months ago was right on the money. He was goofy, but he spoke for the
electorate. Miller represents the majority. It hasnt changed in
220-plus years of this republic. You want to change the hearts and minds
of the hinterland? You want to jerk the south from its Bible Belt? You
had better get the army together, like Lincoln did. Burn their cities
and teach them a thing or two. These people are still fighting the damned
Civil War. Those people who were power-hosing the black folk in Alabama
and Mississippi and the Carolinas during the Civil Rights movement?
Theyre still there, and they had children, and theyre not
trading the country in for any slick talking Yankee lawyer who aint
down with Jesus. Give them a smiling hick like Carter or Clinton or
theyre sending you back to the Ivy League.
The Democratic Party doesnt get it. They talk about issues and
other mish-mosh, but leave out the visceral damage. Maybe northern Democrats
need to cheat to win in the South or the Midwest. One thing is certain,
pulling in a vacuous haircut like John Edwards backfired on Kerry. If
he had taken the advice of this column, or harbored any idea of winning
the White House, he would have secured something viable, like the upper
mid-west and, most vitally, Ohio by choosing Bob Graham or Dick Gephardt.
He wins Ohio, hes president. But most people in this country are
never going to vote for a Massachusetts liberal droning on and on about
pacifying Europe and peace and gays and the right to choose and keeping
God out of the statehouse. They damn well want God in there. What they
obviously didnt want was John Kerry.
Thus, we will begin the coronation on what has in recent years proven
to be, if nothing else, an entertaining embarrassment; the second term.
Seeing how second terms have not been kind to any president in my lifetime,
to say I have every confidence it will end in disaster is to barely
scratch the surface of the girlish excitement that rattles my bones.
And those who didnt live through Watergate, Iran-Contra, or may
have forgotten the beauty of 25 months of Monica Lewinsky and Kenneth
Starr, cannot fully understand the opportunity it provides cynical old
political junkies like myself.
I was ecstatic George Bush beat Al Gore. Now the professionally sinister
part of me is glad hes back, because second terms with the brainwashed
believers is what loving politics is all about. Thats what I told
my friend Georgetown in 96 when Bill Clinton, the last phony southerner,
danced his way back into a second term of ignominy, and what Karl Rove
admitted after half a quart of Chivas five long years ago, "We
studied the Clintons. We know their moves and what counts. Watch us
go." Damn right.
© James Campion November 5th 2004
READERS LETTERS Nov 19th 2004
Do people really vote on morality? And what the hell does morality
mean? Is it moral to rape the environment? Is it moral to reject the
of citizens based on bigotry and ignorance? Is it moral to wage war
circumstantial evidence and vengeance? Is it moral to divide a nation
for personal and perhaps religious reasons? Is it moral to feed off
public fear? Is it moral to cheat and steal and lie for your beliefs?
When do facts and results and a record of incompetence as a leader
and an irresponsible economic executive come into play?
The answer in November of 2004 NEVER.
The youth vote is non-existent...AGAIN. All this talk and Internet blogs
and rallying by pop culture heroes did nothing to increase their numbers.
The Empower Generation? Bullshit. When are these people going to wake
up? Dont they realize that as long as they dont participate
in this process the politicians will only pay attention to the issues
that effect those who vote, like the elderly, the business freaks, the
religious zealots, the military maniacs, the special interest groups
Kristen B. James,
You are right about the Democrats but I think you are over complicating
the Bush vote. I see this election as a standoff by the American electorate
against a party ruled by a young arrogant egotistical elite that is
painfully out of touch with the basic American value system. Why do
they condescend to that value system? Look at the election map. The
Democrats are becoming an urban fringe party. How can you expect to
carry Florida's 27 votes while promising a tax increase on Social Security?
How can you expect people to vote for tax punishment for making more
than $200,000. a year? Gay marriage... why should the collective nation
care about this minute social issue? More importantly, why are the Democrats
pandering to it? Class envy? STOP! I gotta feed my kids! America has
no connection to the Democrats anymore. Issues of taxes, family, security
and values don't resonate with the Democratic elite on a personal level
and so the party is detached from the nation. Ask Zell Miller and look
at the map.
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