The River

Monday, January 12, 2004

Villainy as a Pretext for Being Presidential

Thom Hartmann:

This archetypal transformation of George W. Bush from spoiled, rich pretender-to-the-presidency into the caped (well, flight-suited) SuperGeorge, Defender Of All Things Good And Right has had a powerful impact on the American people, and Rove hopes to ride it to victory in 2004.

But there is a weakness in it, which the Democrats can use to stop Bush's demagogic PR machine and ongoing destruction of American democracy.

Howard Dean was the first to raise a fist full of Kryptonite against SuperGeorge when he suggested we should internationalize the efforts against al-Qaeda and involve more police agencies. Dean's speeches - particularly his speech on foreign policy - make clear that while he realizes the very real danger al-Qaeda represents, he also knows that Bush's superhero go-it-alone posturing is doing us - and democracy itself - more harm than good.


We must repeatedly remind the American people that a horrific crime - not an act of war - was inflicted upon us on 9/11. Like the crimes of the IRA against the citizens of Britain, the crimes of the November 17th terrorist group against Greece, or the crimes of the Red Brigades against Italy, it will be best fought by investigators, intelligence operatives, and the highly effective web of police agencies that stretch across the world. Although less filled with shock and awe, these able people can bring al-Qaeda to justice without further elevating bin Laden or extending his reach and influence.

By recasting bin Laden from a super-villain into a banal criminal, we weaken support for him around the world. And we also deflate the heroic SuperGeorge action figure in the minds of average Americans, allowing more rational statesmen and women to bring this great nation back to the peace we held through so much of the last half of the 20th century.


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