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We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore

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  • Michael Kohl
    We re Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore By Garrison Keillor August 26, 2004 Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 9, 2004
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      We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore

      By Garrison Keillor

      August 26, 2004


      Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party.
      Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in
      steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were
      devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity
      that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished
      the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid
      Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the
      antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their
      man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for
      reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to
      a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to
      rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of
      peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters
      flourished and higher education burgeoned-and there was a degree of
      plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants
      compared to today's. Richard Nixon was the
      last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the
      poor.

      In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated
      southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the
      idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the
      Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a
      gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their
      sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan
      who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a
      pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate
      vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry
      white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship
      is another term of date rape," says Grover Norquist, the Sid
      Vicious of the GOP. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply
      want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom
      and drown it in the bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems and
      government is his daddy.

      The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party
      of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based
      economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of
      convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking
      midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants,
      brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs,
      aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil
      Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little
      honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their
      Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the
      free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose
      philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk.
      Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're
      deaf, dumb and dangerous.

      Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest!
      Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous
      gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists
      sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the
      suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the
      moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and
      behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding
      great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.

      Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a
      platform of tragedy-the single greatest failure of national defense
      in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box
      cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of
      which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the
      country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts
      for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt
      that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war
      against a small country that was undertaken for the president's
      personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis
      of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us
      from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country,
      flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

      The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is
      the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of
      humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something
      about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.

      Our beloved land has been fogged with fear-fear, the greatest
      political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a
      drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy
      and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can
      appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution,
      eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a
      standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the
      rich.

      There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the
      Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it's 9/11 that
      we keep coming back to. It wasn't the "end of innocence," or a
      turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an
      event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn't prevent people
      from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge
      of national security at the time.

      Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or
      getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office
      on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of
      that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those
      people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama,
      cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious
      nation-changing done in his second term.

      This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as
      embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies
      and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of
      the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over
      the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center
      and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic
      policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

      The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron
      and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as
      what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii
      has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy
      and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know
      what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town
      and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the
      constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate
      takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who
      opposes them.

      This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We
      have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better
      shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're
      not getting any younger.

      Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who
      in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and
      thank you, dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and
      there is more to life than winning.

      ---------------------------------


      Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of A Prairie Home
      Companion, now in its 25th year on the air. This adapted excerpted
      from Keillor's new book, Homegrown Democrat (© 2004) is reprinted
      by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
    • Grant Porter
      Though the posts here are few, let s keep them on topic. Thanks, -Grant
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 9, 2004
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        Though the posts here are few, let's keep them on topic.

        Thanks,
        -Grant


        On 9/9/04 4:10 PM, mjkohl@... (Michael Kohl) wrote:

        >We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore
        >
        >By Garrison Keillor
        >
        >August 26, 2004
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