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CRAZY LIKE A
By David Podvin
Al Gore recently gave an eloquent speech about the quagmire in Iraq during which he condemned the Bush administration as tyrannical and warned that it is subverting our democracy by governing through deceit. Unable to refute his accusations, conservatives have responded by chanting in Stalinist unison that dissident Gore must be “crazy”.
The roster of diagnosticians who have concluded that Gore is mentally ill reads like a “Who’s Who” of diminished capacity: Peggy Noonan, who claims that Elian Gonzalez was rescued at sea by magic dolphins on a mission from God… G. Gordon Liddy, who bragged about improving upon the concept of sun tea by killing a rat, leaving it outside to roast in the midday swelter, and then eating it… Ann Coulter, whose neighbors have reported seeing her argue with herself as she walks down the street… Michael Savage, who has pledged that he will “personally kick every Arab’s ass”… Charles Krauthammer, who has said on more than one occasion that he “truly envies” the intellect of George W. Bush….
And then there is Rush Limbaugh, who without any apparent sense of irony insists Gore is so deranged that the former vice president should immediately be prescribed massive amounts of medication.
In addition to being derided as a crackpot by people whose taste in headwear runs toward aluminum foil, Gore has been pronounced mentally unfit by the corporate propagandists who masquerade as journalists. At the roundtables on the televised political talk shows, there was a collective sneer when the Gore speech became the topic of conversation. On ABC and NBC and CBS and PBS and CNN, reporters shook their heads in mock sorrow about Gore’s maniacal delirium, nonexistent though it is. Meanwhile, the black helicopter crowd over at Fox News rebuked him for being out of touch with reality.
The most entertaining part of the charade occurred when the various moderators of the programs described Gore as “ranting” and “raving”, then triumphantly brandished footage that showed him giving a highly rational and dignified presentation. It was hilariously surrealistic, as though the videotape editors were John Cleese and Eric Idle. Unfazed, the panelists promptly returned to discussing the tragic descent into madness of Albert A. Gore.
Lust for power is the motive behind this farce in which sanity is insanity and vice versa. If conservatives can suppress the bitter truth about the comprehensive failure of the Bush administration long enough to win the election, they will finally have the ability to transform America into the country that reactionaries have always thought it should be.
Republicans are approaching their Shining City On A Hill. They have successfully exploited public fear of terrorism to justify bullying the world, looting the Treasury and shredding the Bill of Rights. Their next goal is to implement the societal model based on Charles Dickens’ London, that paragon of meritocracy where the deserving few lived in splendor while the undeserving many lived in squalor.
Conservatives have never accepted the social progress of the twentieth century - they forever pine for the good old days of domestic peonage. Republicans sincerely believe that child labor laws and minimum wage requirements and the rest of the liberal platform have weakened the nation’s moral fabric. They intend to have the United States reclaim its soul by reverting to the honor system whereby business is freed from government oversight and entrusted to act in the public interest.
This nation cannot survive a second Bush term. If he stays in office, we will still have the same beautiful flag and the same stirring national anthem, but America will be a very different place. Over the last few years, the right wing has laid the foundation for turning back the clock by creating an enormous budget deficit. Conservatives just need a little more time to use that shortfall as a pretext for eliminating the safety net that saves millions of citizens from homelessness and starvation.
A continuation of Republican control will enable them to finish repealing the New Deal and replacing it with “laissez faire capitalism”, the marketing term for the law of the jungle. Their primary objective – now, as always - is to accelerate the upward redistribution of wealth, which will inevitably result in a de facto caste system.
Conservatives have their hearts set on erasing the stain of egalitarianism from our culture and restoring the natural feudal order of things. Any nonconformist who publicly disagrees will not only be assailed with the traditional slanders of treason and blasphemy, but also will be classified as a nut. More than anyone, Gore is challenging the Republican agenda, and so he is savaged for being sick in the head.
Gore is not the first American to be on the receiving end of this Bolshevik-style smear. In recent years, the roster of people who have been accused by conservatives of suffering from dementia has grown to include Anita Hill, Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi, Ann Richards, Jesse Jackson, Paul Wellstone, George Soros, Gray Davis, Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Michael Moore, Martin Sheen, Al Franken, Kevin Phillips, Bill Maher, Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, Susan McDougal, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Barbara Lee, Max Cleland, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Bill Clinton. Soon, John Kerry will be cast as the poster child for mental illness.
Republicans are eternally in attack mode out of necessity because they can win elections only by obscuring their true intentions. The conservative philosophy was best defined by Ayn Rand, who divided humanity into two categories: “geniuses” and “parasites”. The geniuses are the wealthy elitists who deserve to reap the benefits of society, and the parasites are everyone else. Conservative electoral success is therefore dependent on deceiving the majority of citizens into voting against their own interests, making it imperative to discredit anyone who speaks the truth.
Conservative slander usually works because the standard liberal response is to apologize for having been forthright and promise not to do it again. Thankfully, sometime after the stolen election, Mr. Gore decided to deviate from the script. Several months ago, he excoriated the broadcasting industry for its right wing bias. When the functionaries of the media giants responded with vicious personal attacks that would have traumatized any other prominent Democrat, Gore refused to back down.
Now, he has been brutally honest about the Iraq debacle and the conservative deceivers who created it. If during the Florida recount we had seen this passionate version of Gore rather than the passive one, our nation would have been spared the worst presidency ever. It is a tragedy of historical proportions that the real Al Gore did not emerge at that time.
Better late than never. Gore is currently highlighting the forbidden truths of American politics. In defiance of establishment protocol, he is pointing out that our emperor not only lacks clothes but also competence and integrity. This candor has inspired people who value honesty and simultaneously has made Republicans miserable, which is exactly the way life is supposed to be.
In a democracy, it is vitally important for the opposition party to provide a little opposition. For too long, the Democrats have defaulted on that responsibility, but someone has finally decided enough is enough. Democratic leaders and mainstream journalists refuse to confront Bush about the damage he has inflicted on this country, so Gore is doing it for them, and he is doing it brilliantly.
The man who should now be president is instead serving as America’s conscience. At this time when liberty most needs a champion, Gore has volunteered to run the gauntlet of right wing abuse on behalf of patriots who want to maintain a free nation. He is not seeking office or selling a book; Gore is putting himself in harm’s way in order to thwart the conservatives who are determined to ruin the United States. His behavior is far from lunacy - it is statesmanship.
Unfortunately, Gore’s stance against despotism has largely been a solitary one, and time is running out for others to stand with him. This election year is the deadline for relevant action on the part of those who care about living in a civilized land. Liberals have a choice to make: they can opt again for the “high road” by refusing to counterattack Republican lies while congratulating themselves on their superior etiquette, or they can emulate Gore by aggressively confronting the evil that threatens our republic.
If defeating tyranny requires too much effort – if liberal devotion to freedom is merely rhetorical – history provides an insight as to what will happen next. Bush is not an innovator; the actions of his administration are hauntingly familiar. The conservative strategy for dismantling the Weimar Republic was to create a series of crises followed by “emergency” measures that gradually codified fascism. People were apprehensive, but lacked the resolve to resist what was happening. Fascism did not triumph; it won by default when citizens passively allowed their freedom to be confiscated in the name of security.
Seventy years later, the United States is heading full speed in the same direction under an administration that should never have been. Al Gore has risen to meet the threat, so he is being maligned by the totalitarians amongst us. Conservatives are tantalizingly close to eradicating the American way of life as we know it, and they have no intention of allowing their cherished plans to be spoiled by someone who is so crazy that he insists upon telling the truth.
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