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Be afraid. But keep shopping.

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    Republican propaganda machine rolls on HAROON SIDDIQUI Sep. 5, 2004. 01:00 AM http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar%
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6 1:49 PM
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      Republican propaganda machine rolls on
      HAROON SIDDIQUI
      Sep. 5, 2004. 01:00 AM
      http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar%
      2FLayout%2FArticle_Type1&c=Article&cid=1094335810003


      Be afraid, very afraid. But keep shopping.

      That was the message to the American voters from George W. Bush and
      the Republican National Convention.

      Even discounting the partisan exaggerations of such self-serving
      gatherings, one can't think of a contemporary parallel in which the
      dissonance between rhetoric and reality was greater.

      In the $107 million (U.S.) fantasy beamed out of Madison Square
      Garden in New York, there was nary an acknowledgment of several
      inconvenient facts. To wit: Self-absorbed Americans are not the only
      victims of terrorism. The applause greeting the president's
      triumphant declarations coincided with the cries of children and
      adult hostages at their impending murders in Russia by Chechen
      terrorists. The 140,000 American troops in Iraq are presiding over
      an exponential growth in terrorism. Extremism is flourishing in
      almost every place this president has intervened. America is deeply
      divided at home and almost universally reviled abroad.

      Yet, here was Bush promising more wars, not fewer. And, oblivious to
      all of the above, the faithful were cheering him on.

      That both the president and the party are in denial is, in some
      ways, more instructive than what they are being criticized for: the
      shameless exploitation of 9/11, the nasty attacks on John Kerry's
      war record and the hiding of the Christian fundamentalist delegates,
      who formed the majority at the convention but were barred from prime
      time.

      Feeding fear of crime and exploiting its victims has long been a
      staple of Republican campaigns (and copied here by the Harris-Eves
      Tories).

      Also familiar is the Bush family's penchant for demolishing
      opponents, whatever it takes. Exhibit A: Democrat Michael Dukakis in
      the 1988 presidential election. Exhibit B: Republican war hero John
      McCain in the 2000 primaries.

      It comes as no surprise that Bush and running-mate Dick Cheney,
      having dodged service in Vietnam, are presiding over a vicious
      campaign to question Kerry's heroic service in that war and his even
      more heroic opposition to it when he returned home.

      Having made a mess of the economy — only "girly men" worry over it,
      said Arnold Schwarzenegger, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New
      York counselled shopping — the Bush-Cheney team is campaigning on
      its foreign policy, despite its demonstrable failure in curbing
      global terrorism.

      War talk it will be from now until election day — a balm to the
      frayed nerves of the citizens of a gun-toting culture, especially
      the Republicans' rural and conservative base.

      The status of the stateless terrorists has been elevated to that of
      the Nazis and the communists.

      McCain: "Just as surely as the Nazis during World War II and the
      Soviet communists during the Cold War, the enemy we face today is
      bent on our destruction."

      Cheney: "It's an enemy whose hatred is limitless." Defeating it
      is "vital to preserving freedom."

      Rudolph Giuliani: Terrorists are "dedicated to eradicating us and
      our way of life."

      The conservative media join in.

      Sean Hannity: "We are in the middle of World War III."

      With that spin, it is easier to compare Bush to Churchill and
      Roosevelt, however absurd the proposition.

      The Iraq war is, again, being rolled into the war on terrorism,
      notwithstanding the missing weapons of mass destruction and the
      missing links to Al Qaeda. It is as though those embarrassments
      never happened.

      Bush: "In Saddam Hussein, we saw a threat."

      Cheney: "We dealt with a gathering threat."

      Giuliani: "In any plan to destroy global terrorism, removing Saddam
      Hussein needed to be accomplished. He was himself a weapon of mass
      destruction."

      Also back in circulation is the retroactive justification of the
      invasion — the liberation of Iraqis, even if nearly 20,000 have been
      killed in the process, so far.

      Giuliani: "We ended Saddam's reign of terror."

      McCain: "Iraq was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers
      and mass graves."

      Which it was. But we must try to forget that it was at the peak of
      the gulag, in the 1980s, that Washington was happiest with Saddam as
      an ally.

      Similarly, in hearing Bush boast of his democracy initiative in "the
      broader Middle East" — its geography yet to be defined — we are to
      turn a blind eye to the fact that the initiative is not going
      anywhere, precisely because he is the one promoting it.

      We must also not rain on the president's parade of good news from
      Afghanistan.

      That "more than 10 million citizens have registered to vote in the
      October presidential election" is, in fact, a reminder that there
      are only 9 million eligible voters.

      Afghans are acquiring more than one ballot not out of democratic
      enthusiasm but because they can trade them to the warlords who hope
      to use them as bargaining chips with President Hamid Karzai.

      The mission in Afghanistan remains half-finished, principally
      because of Bush's detour in Iraq. The Taliban are on the rise, as is
      opium production.

      While the American war machine is bogged down abroad, the Republican
      propaganda machine rolls on at home.


      hsiddiq@...

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