By Larry Martin
It wasn't that the Bush Administration wasted the budget
surplus, went deep into the red, and still tried to give huge
tax-cuts to the rich - I have grown to expect that from Republicans,
most of whom seem to have studied economics at the Arthur
Andersen School of Accounting.
It wasn't even the reported hypocrisy of Dick Cheney not
turning over his Enron Playbook and Secret Decoder Ring to
investigators after telling Americans that if he was elected
he would be honest and forthright and run an open government
and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah - because no sane person
believed Dick to begin with and, technically, he and Bush
were never "elected" - so he has that obvious loop-hole to
I didn't even flinch upon hearing the lopsided score in the
Enron versus Whitewater game (90 Billion to Nothing) or bemoan
the fact that mainstream journalists don't want to investigate
the scandal, because - and I understand - they are too busy
quoting Rummy and the Boys and, you know, it's easy to spend
a whole day writing, "No comment at this time." Especially
during a war.
What finally made me come out of the closet as a liberal
was none of the above. It was much more subtle.
It was the glint of madness W. had in his eyes this last
week. You see, I had always assumed Republicans were just
con artists and thieves who scammed people in order to pay
less taxes, get richer and basically keep the poor / ignorant
/ minorities in their place. but for the first time, looking
at George Bush on TV, I realized - I KNEW - that Republicans
had finally blurred the lines between fact and fiction so
badly that they could no longer discern between reality and
the fantasy-based, comic book universe they've created in
their own minds. That, quite frankly, scared me.
My name is Larry Martin and I am a Liberal.
Comic Book Reality
Drunk on a high-octane mix of 99% approval ratings and moral
self-righteousness - and running faster than a speeding bullet
from the repercussions of the largest financial scandal in
the history of the world - Bush and his Mild-Mannered Moderates
have become what I feared most: Captain Right-Wing and the
Rangers of the New Third Reich.
Along with super-elite secret agents of conservatism like;
The Shredder (who can destroy documents faster than the speed
of subpoenas), General Spin (who can stop a mainstream journalist
with a single sound bite), and Mr. Regressive (who never met
a Civil Right he couldn't oppress) - Bush and Company have
launched into a 21st century version of the Crusades and have
proclaimed to cheering audiences everywhere that we are facing
no less than our arch nemesis the "Axis of Evil" (A.K.A. the
"North Korea, Iran, Iraq and a small country to be invaded,
err.. rather "named" later, are the primary doers of "bad"
in the world." Bush decreed before flying off to the D.M.Z.
so that he could look at xenophobic racists, presumably, without
having to use a mirror.
"We are good. They are evil." W. continued, donning his powerful
Revisionist Cloak, "We've never done anything to them and
the Axis of Evil, in a cowardly, evil and sneaky attack, blew
up the World Trade Center and killed 3000 Americans. They
hate us because we are free and they are evil and, uh, not
free. Our only option is to - regrettably - annihilate these
godless, evil, tyrants, before they develop weapons more powerful
than the, uh, evil sticks and rocks they currently have. Oh,
and we'll need to send aid to all the innocent Afghan children
who are also victims of evil in this, uh, evil, tragedy."
Makes you want to wave a flag and play follow the leader
into WWIII, doesn't it? The press and the masses are eating
this stuff up.
We'll fight our way to peace.
That's the Baby Bush Battle Cry. It's brilliant. So what
if it's completely wacko. It's simple, easy to understand
and it makes perfect sense - in a kaleidoscopic / alternate-reality
kind of way.
Comic book simplicity is the main reason Republicans are
at the top of the political food chain. They use easy to understand
dialog, mixed with arguments distilled into black and white,
good versus evil, plot lines. They then paint everything with
that brush - and it is highly effective - because "easy to
understand" beats "technically correct" almost every time.
Scientists, for years, have had the same problem (and the
same nemesis) as Democrats. Whenever they try to explain why
"Evolution" is a science and mythology based propaganda is
not - they get shot down fast and hard. Why? Because real
facts and truths are often very complex and right wing religious
fanatics are able to simplify the equation into easy to digest
Does anyone with an IQ high enough to be executed in Texas
really believe humans were scooped from mud 6000 years ago?
Probably not, but people buy into "intelligent design" /
"creationism" arguments because most scientists feel that
"facts" do not need to be "marketed." This is a huge miscalculation,
and it keeps Right-wing Regressives winning battle after battle
in a war that should have been won by science over 100 years
ago. Democrats are up against the same problem, namely, how
to effectively debate this propaganda technique.
Truth, just like any other commodity in the world, must be
presented in an intelligent and easy to understand fashion.
It may be distasteful to scientists and liberals to "market"
facts by using catchy "slogans", but when right-wing zealots
like Bill O'Reilly can claim to be in "The No-Spin Zone" and
school boards honestly consider teaching "intelligent design"
- it's time to start.
A major problem for liberals is that, since the days of Uncle
Ronnie, the Media has grown fat and sassy on GOP-fed bull,
which they have discovered is easy to peddle to the masses.
Republican quips are like fast food to the tabloid press and
Democrats must learn to simplify their arguments into tasty
bite-sized morsels if they want the press to eat at their
table. If not, then it won't matter that Liberals were right
and the "Right" was wrong - there won't be any "Left" left.
The Republican Media Strategy boils down to this: comic books
sell better than science books.
Intellectuals / Democrats need to understand that you can't
drop off a 3000-page toxicology study on the effects of arsenic
in tap water to the average person or reporter and expect
them to understand it.
Republicans know this, "That is inconclusive." They say.
"Ignore it". Then they find a scientist to disagree with the
report. "See it's inconclusive," they repeat again.
Scientists / Democrats often get caught up in arguing exactly
how much arsenic per billion parts is factually "safe" while
Republicans keep chanting, "Look, even they don't know. It's
inconclusive." They become the voice of calm reason while
Intellectuals / Liberals are seen as Nervous Nellies, who
don't have a clue what they're talking about. Unless there
is total agreement - the Republicans come out looking victorious.
The lesson here is that you can't win a debate when your
opponent makes the rules. You can, however, start screaming:
"They poisoned the water!" until people listen and that is
exactly what needs to be done.
Democrats must attack the Right-Wing Propaganda Machine head
on; something that the Fair Left has been afraid to do. In
fact, James Carville may be the only Democrat who can "Fight
the Right" on their own turf in easy to understand, straight
forward, made-for-TV-talk. Carville won the White House for
Clinton with the simple motto; "It's the Economy, stupid".
Gore lost because his slogan was - well, that's the point.
So the next time Captain Righteous and the Christian Coalition
for Early Armageddon starts talking about expanding the war
on terrorism, we Liberals need a counter-attack.
"Attacking Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, North Korea or anywhere
else - because 19 Saudi Arabian citizens launched a suicide
attack on our shores - is like bombing Michigan because Timothy
McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah building."
Oh, sure, the heat will come. But it takes heat to make things
grow - like a spine.
If the Left starts developing a solid backbone the media
may - eventually - stop chewing up Liberal Visionaries and
start feeding on the plentiful supply of Conservative Zombies
stumbling all over the US like some forgotten echo out of
Shirley Jackson's, "The Lottery".
Sure, the press is stacked hard to the right (at the moment),
but the MEB's (Media/Entertainment Businesses) are an equal
opportunity predator, they will attack anything if they smell
To draw blood, I suggest a nation-wide Democratic billboard
campaign with a picture of George Bush dressed only in socks
and boxer shorts - spread eagle in a bed full of money (ala
Demi Moore - Indecent Proposal) and a caption that reads:
No, it's not declaring war. War has already been declared.
The Right sees this struggle for power as nothing less than
the Last Crusade. What Liberals fail to grasp is that, not
only is this is a war, but also - that we are losing the war.
In order to win we must have the same resolve as the Right.
Every issue needs a quick, decisive response.
When Bush The Appointed talks about "any cost" to fight terrorism,
we liberals need to blast back:
"Republicans said two years ago that Al Gore's Airport Security
recommendations were not "cost-effective." Just for the record,
lets see, those 2 billion dollars a year would have saved
us, oh that's right - about a trillion dollars so far, not
to mention the lives of 3,000 Americans. The short sightedness
of the G.O.P. hurt America badly and they cost lives. Conservatives
were so busy stuffing airline campaign money into their pockets
that they let people die."
This needs to be repeated until it becomes a national catch
When we hear Bush warn us that, "We all have to make sacrifices"
we have to come out swinging.
"I guess the filthy rich really wanted to pay more taxes
but that's just a sacrifice they will have to make, eh George?"
"So, lets get this straight, even though we currently spend
a billion dollars a day - that's a billion dollars a day -
on our military (not to mention CIA / FBI / INS / BATF and
others) that apparently isn't enough for the Bush administration
to stop a handful of Arabs wielding box-cutters."
Pundits who warn Democrats not to attack Republicans over
the Enron scandal, because it may be seen as being "partisan"
need to be slapped into place:
"I'm sorry did I miss something? Whitewater - was that a
bi-partisan effort? Ken Starr spent five years, $50 million,
and came up with a blowjob. Tell you what, you give me an
independent prosecutor, half the time and money and I'll bring
back a picture of W. in bed with Ken Lay screwing the entire
nation and laughing about it."
Radical? Sure, but these people live in a fantasy world and
in order to fight them you have to fight on their level. Comic
book warfare is not subtle.
The truth is that Bush and the GOP are not superheroes -
they are super bullies who, because of a long history of intellectual
/ liberal / political timid-ness, now feel empowered to shove
their fiction-based, backward agenda down the throats of all
Here are a couple of thoughts from the Comic Book Universe:
1. Truth has to be fought for.
2. You have to stand up to bullies.
Democrats need to stop getting sand kicked in their faces
and start fighting back. Today, I decided it was time to join
the battle on the side of good.
Larry Martin is a highly paid, right wing political consultant
who teaches "Creationism" to over-privileged rich kids in
his spare time. He can be reached at: email@example.com.