Okay, listen up, please and thank you. My name is Barbara and I'm a Bush-basher. I have lots of company and our numbers are increasing daily. And it has just occurred to me that that could be a problem. I wish I could say it is about taking the moral high ground. Actually, it's a practical matter.
The chair of the Minnesota GOP is a singularly snarly man named Ron Carey. A yip-yap guy. Kind of like a Chihuahua on steroids. A pesky ankle-biter. Okay. Enough metaphors.
Imagine my amazement when, a couple of days ago, Carey said something that triggered a big, fat "Aha!" for me. Paraphrasing the Book of Rove, Carey said, "Democrats want to run against George Bush. He's not on the ballot (emphasis mine). Democrats are on the ballot, and that's who we are running against. Our job is to define the differences between our candidates and theirs, and to show that our candidates are better. If we do that, we will prevail" blah, blah, blah.
Reading between Carey's words, we know they see it is their job to ratchet up the old smear apparatus which certainly does differentiate between their candidates and ours. Be that as it may, the part about who's on the ballot is A Very Big Deal (VBD).
We've heard variations of Carey's observation before, but apparently prophets are still without honor in their own Congressional districts. Even now, I'm not sure why this snagged my attention in such a big way. Maybe because it's simple and on target. Not necessarily honest, but accurate on the face of things.
It boils down to this VBD: We're chasing down the wrong elephant. Whether by intelligent design or genetic makeup, George Bush is who he is. And the neocons have figured out how to work even that to their advantage.
We are so fixated on the man, his mind and his mouth that we're providing conservatives with the smokescreen they need to craft their most snarky, vicious strategies. It's what they do.
Make no mistake, it's happening even as we breathe. For example, the loathesome Swift Boat Vets & POWs for Truth have reinvented themselves as Vets for Freedom. Emboldened by their success in 2004, they are raising big bucks and preparing vats o'slime for 2006 and beyond.
We've already seen some vicious material out of the John Kline camp in Minnesota's Second Congressional District. Can GIl Gutknecht and Mark Kennedy be far behind?
There is also the matter of the apparent 180 by some conservatives. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough (a former Republican congressman) recently ran a 10-minute long, on-air caption reading, "IS BUSH AN 'IDIOT'?" during his talk show. George Will took aim at Bush's foundering plan for Middle East stability. What's going on here?
There was a terrific Huffington Post by Dr. Kathleen Reardon yesterday. Reardon refers to what's going on as the "He's an Idiot" trial balloon, launched by Republican strategists.
Reardon says, "Think about it. If selected, visible, staunch Bush supporters begin talking about how intellectually wanting the President is, with his full knowledge and collaboration (such as chewing with his mouth open, striding motorcycles, goofing around with unappreciative world leaders), there won't be an anti-Bush platform for the Democrats. In fact, if these balloonists play their cards right, it will seem as if there isn't a nickel's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats. Everyone will be anti-Bush. The playing field will be leveled.
"It's an excellent 'inoculation' tactic, too," Reardon continues, "against a possible impeachment move should the Democrats win enough seats in November. Inoculation, a persuasion strategy, works by telling people in advance of an anticipated negative event how to think about it."
She goes on to say that "apparently (Tony) Blair got the 'We're-going-to-say-he's-an-idiot' email. The Daily Mail reported: 'A senior Downing Street source said that, privately, Mr. Blair broadly agrees with John Prescott, who said Mr. Bush's record on the issue (Middle East) was "crap" . . . We all feel badly let down by Bush . . . How can anyone have faith in a man of such low intellect?"
Far-fetched? You know, I wish I could blow it all off, saying this is hooey. After all, why would someone with an ego as big as an aircraft carrier allow himself to be publicly ridiculed and apparently shafted by his own party? Why, indeed. But something in the old gut is niggling away, warning me to warn all of us to be vigilant. It might be time to connect the balloons.