Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Reality Check 

Atrios is right. In any sane world, Bush would be wishing he had Jimmy Carter's electoral prospects right now. Carter at least had a Middle East Peace Plan, and a basically honest character. On domestic as well as foreign policy, Bush has nothing to show except catastrophe, lies and embarrassment. If he were the guy pumping your gas, you would wonder how he kept his job. Yet the CW presents him as, if not Superman, then at least Truckasaurus.

It came to me while I found myself fretting yet again, like many Democrats these days, about electability. I was inspecting our latest front-runner, Kerry, and, like so many others, finding frightful blemishes: How would he play in the South? How about vote X? Would he be able to inspire the undecideds? What about his campaign chest? Etc. etc.

Suddenly I stopped. How did I get like this? Three months ago we had an embarrassment of riches, at least 4 candidates, each of whom could eat Incurious George's lunch in a one-on-one debate. Yet now each of these candidates had shrunk in my eyes. What happened?

Then I recalled what Thomas Pynchon had written years ago:
Well, if the Counterforce knew better what those categories concealed, they might be in a better position to disarm, de-penis and dismantle the Man. But they don't. Actually they do, but they don't admit it. Sad but true. They are as schizoid, as double-minded in the massive presence of money, as any of the rest of us, and that's the hard fact. The Man has a branch office in each of our brains, his corporate emblem is a white albatross, each local rep has a cover known as the Ego, and their mission in this world is Bad Shit. We do know what's going on, and we let it go on.

And that's the problem. We let it go on. Despite our loathing of them, despite our fear, in varying degrees we buy into the media's line of bullshit about Bush, about the Dems, about the public. We accept that the public mind is a lump of putty that Republicans can mold as it suits them, but assume that it's a block of cement when Democrats try. We await the inevitable slandering of our candidate's character while muting the truth about Bush's demonstrable lack of any discernible virtue (compassion, honesty, humility, generosity, courage) whatsoever. We fume at the largely impotent role that has been assigned to us, thereby helping make that role a reality.

We have to drop this mindset, now. We aren't on the defensive; they are. If the enemy has more money, it's because they need it to distract attention from their fundamental weakness. We need to attack, then redouble the attack, then attack some more. As someone somewhere said, when they pull a knife, we pull a gun; when they pull a gun, we pull a bazooka. You want to talk courage? You want to talk honesty? You want to talk trust? Bring it on. We gotcher character issue right here, bub. In practical terms this means that we stop conceding territory to the enemy. It means writing op-eds, staffing phones, walking door to door. It means refusing to let the press lie. And it means writing checks, giving not until it hurts, but until it feels good.

Whatever else we do, we have to drop this idea that Democrats have anything to apologize for. We don't. It's past time to start putting the onus of shame back where it belongs: on the people who have brought disgrace to our present, and who are promising the ruination of our future. If we do, we win in a walk.

corrente SBL - New Location
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The Washington Chestnut
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