Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Hard Sell

Well, the long-overdue change in White House strategy is finally here. First, the President goes in his repetitive Iraq stump, like he just read the chapter on "repetition" from a telemarketer's handbook. Then there was today's televised radio address, where Bush answered the New York Times's revelations about the N.S.A.'s warrantless spying on Americans, with an unapologetic admission that bordered on bluster. Guess what, that's gonna be their new strategy.

It's reprehensible. And it's gonna work.

Americans, especially Conservatives, love bluster. Remember this asshole:

Our tolerance for an otherwise embarrassing level of bluster is a twisted offshoot of our national love of rebels, bad boys, and rule breakers. Forget that there is nothing rebellious about power-hungry neo-cons breaking the law; after all, these guys aren't flaunting the rules because justice compels them to fight for the oppressed; on the contrary, they seek only more power through their "creative destruction". But they know that if they proudly claim the mantle of rebel and lay claim to some "higher morality" that compels them to rule breaking, there are those who will buy it. Bluster, and its jackass cousin braggadocio (see Rush Limbaugh) riles up a very vocal element within the American electorate. Let's call it the Asshole vote.

From now on, when the Democrats say "you broke the law" expect them to say "You're damn right we did! And we'd do it again to protect America". What do they have to lose? The reason this tactic met with only mixed success for the Reagan Administration was that their bluster was eventually ground down under the relentless momentum of the legal proceedings launched by Congress. What are the chances that the current House will open an investigation of Bush's illegal use of the N.S.A.?

Richard Nixon famously said that "It's not illegal if the President does it". Bush legal flack John Yoo has created a pseudo-constitutional framework to argue the same thing. From now on expect each charge against the Administration, short of a clear-cut criminal code violation, to be answered with just such adolescent bluster. No excuses, no apologies, no admission of guilt. Only a defiant stance and a puffed-up chest.

A nation addicted to professional wrestling just might buy it.


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