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GOP Heavies Work the "O.J. Dodge"

September 13, 2005
Satire by Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

Note to readers: The following transcript of a conversation among political leaders -- one imagines the room was bugged -- was placed through our mail slot yesterday by a group calling itself the Bush-Liberation Front. We can't verify the authenticity of the organization or the document, but, in a curious sort of way, it passes the smell test. See what you think.

I told you, it works like a charm every time. Of course, it requires a fairly dumbed-down populace to help make it work. But having that built-in base of die-hard conservatives, a good many of them fundamentalist Christians who believe and do whatever we tell them, makes it fairly easy.

I can vouch for that. I mean, look at the trouble I was in. Got caught red-handed making sexual moves on a good many attractive young ladies, and my Democrat opponents were calling for me to drop out of the race as a sexual predator, insensitive to women. But I used the ultimate spin moves I learned from you, Karl, as well as how a good many televangelists wormed their way out of their scandals. My base stayed with me, no problem.

You were always a quick learner, Arnold, I can tell you that. You know the drill. First, you issue a vague, generic apology that admits to nothing specific, but makes you seem like you're taking responsibility for your actions. You know, something like: "If I have offended anybody by my poor behavior, I sincerely apologize. It certainly wasn't my intent....blah, blah, blah."

Then you bring out the stealth solution that hasn't failed us yet: You say you're going to set up an investigatory panel to check into all these allegations -- it's just a vague promise, with nobody named to the probe, and always in the future tense. The usual result of you promising to investigate yourself -- what we in the trade call “the O.J. Dodge” -- is that somehow the air in the bad-press balloon escapes and the issue disappears from the front pages and TV newscasts. Later, after the election, your supposed investigation simply disappears -- after all, the people elected you, scandal or no scandal -- or a spokesman announces that you've been exonerated.

I have an additional way to take the pressure off me. I can always get our GOP lapdogs in Congress to set up an “official investigation" that will do nothing but clear me and shift the blame somewhere else -- maybe to Bill Clinton or at least to Democrats in general, or, if we're not that lucky, we throw a low-level flunky overboard to take the rap. You're right: Doing any or all of these approaches deflates the issue in the media, the public is fooled into believing there really are going to be deep, serious investigations into what went wrong, and meanwhile, we escape untouched. Is this a great country, or what?

If things get too hot and you wind up being sued in court, you simply follow Uncle Dick's Postpone Rulebook, as I like to call it. That's what I did with my supposed "secret energy panel" brouhaha. You work the issue all the way through the courts for years, delaying, delaying until some appeals court or other, with judges you appointed, finds in your favor. Go fuck yourself, you liberal pansies!-- I love saying that. God, this country is wonderful!

It was a bit trickier with the Katrina fallout, I must admit. We took some really nasty hits on that one, mainly because conservative Republicans and rightwing media joined in to bash us on our lack of timely compassion for the victims of the New Orleans flood. Once we all returned from our vacations, we ratcheted up our team and came up with solutions. Trouble was, we were fighting the TV images the public had seen for nearly a week on how FEMA and the White House were late and botched the situation royally. We found we had to go from Plan B to Plan C really quickly.

For Plan B, first we sent the Prez to the area for photo ops -- of course, not in downtown New Orleans; couldn’t risk photos of poor black people yelling at him. So we did the next best thing: We got the Prez with some pickaninnies and their mommas -- put his arm around them, got the girls laughing, expressing his compassion, that sort of media stuff. Then, we made sure no major food items got distributed until the Prez arrived, thus making him a man of action who gets things done. When all that didn't really defuse our bad image, we went to Plan C.

We dispersed the flood victims all over the country, thus guaranteeing that they wouldn't be able to organize any protests anywhere en masse. Then we announced that we were going to give those lazy welfare bastards $2000 vouchers per family, to buy essentials -- booze or crack, most likely. Expensive, but we looked generous, caring, warm -- anything to counter those pictures of what happened while Brown at FEMA, and we in the White House, were spinning our wheels trying to figure out how to gear up. (Later, of course, we canceled the giveaway.)

Then we sent out the emergency spin points to our radio talk-show friends, freepers and conservative pundits, blaming the New Orleans Dem mayor and the Dem governor of Louisiana, and reminding our folks to talk always about the anarchy and violence that ensued in the neighborhoods of Those People. The son of Willie Horton, I like to call the move. We also found a way to work Bill Clinton into the equation: We blamed him for the faulty levees.

Worked like a charm, Karl. The visual images changed from floating dead bodies in the Mississippi to U.S. soldiers distributing supplies. The talk shifted from Bush and FEMA to frothing Democrats playing the Blame Game. Didn't matter if it wasn't true or only half true (with us owning the other half of the responsibility); the idea was to get the Prez off the hot seat by pounding our version of events a hundred times a day. As Rush reminds us, you keep doing that long enough, hard enough, and sooner or later it becomes the truth. I'm still governor, aren't I? It works, Karl, just like you taught me.

Need I remind you guys that your approval numbers are way low? Were it not for our tech-savvy friends out there, we couldn't win an election for dogcatcher right now, and neither could you, Arnold. Somewhere between election day 2004 and now, the public seems to have figured out something. Our job is to make them forget the facts, and alter those negative feelings and images; we need to frighten the hell out of them, make them dependent on us as the authority figures who can make them feel better, and regain our old momentum. If it takes cracking some heads, or rounding up critical types for 're-education' in summer camps, we'll do it.

Hey, your mention of "camps" just reminded me that you three guys have something important in common. You all had relatives with ties to the Third Reich. Karl, your grandfather, a high-up Party man, helped plan the Birkenau death camp; your father, Arnold, volunteered for the Nazi S.A. in Austria and worked his way fairly high up in the officer corps; and your industrialist great-grandfather, Mr. President, helped finance the Nazi Party from here in America, and your grandfather carried on the tradition -- actually, to the point where the U.S. government shut down his German money-laundering operation in 1942. I’m really impressed with how you guys managed to spin your way out of all that.

(Long silence)

Those Nazis were cruel, inhuman butchers.

Of course.

Yes, they were.

Still, despite all that, they were masters of societal manipulation, propaganda and knew how to cleverly destroy their opponents politically. I've done my research and my reading, and have found much that is useful for my work. We got rid of the cruelty and anti-Semitism (well, not quite: Arabs are Semites), and kept what was useful from their effective methods. Madison Avenue has worked that side of the street for years, why not us?

My two favorites always have been their use of the Big Lie Technique and their aggressive policy of "preventive war" -- attacking a potential enemy in advance of any real threat. Nothing like the old favorites. I don't have your Third Reich connections, but we neo-conservatives consider ourselves to be carrying out the muscular, aggressive theories and policies of Leo Strauss -- also Ariel Sharon's favorite philosopher, even if he was German.

I guess my dad was a Straussian, without knowing it: He always liked confronting potential critics threateningly; he loved to watch them cower in the face of overwhelming power. Who knows? Maybe that's why I went into bodybuilding and adventure movies. It’s so American! I love how you guys took the concept of "blitzkrieg" and morphed it into "shock&awe," or "preventive" war into "pre-emptive" war. Classic.

And we're still in Iraq, as we speak. Works every time.

Did you like what I did with the huge "W" banners at the election-night celebration? Nothing overt, but just enough borrowed from the '36 Nurenberg Rally to make a subliminal impact. Damn, but those guys knew how to do ritual on a grand scale, how to build emotion-inducing stage sets and flags and banners, and how hungry ordinary citizens are to be part of something bigger and nastier and more successful than themselves. Outright masters! Where’s Leni Riefenstahl now that we need her?

Then you should love what we're doing in the post-Katrina Gulf States, especially in New Orleans. It's like a grand rehearsal in case, down the line, we need to use FEMA to round up our enemies, disarm them of their guns, move them around the country to our own free-housing compounds. I mean, there could be a rebellion in the streets if and when we bomb or invade another Mideast country, or if impeachment looks like a real possibility and we have to get creative. We need to be prepared.

"Free-housing compounds." I love that one, Turd Blossom!

Glad someone appreciates my sense of humor; thank you, Mr. President. On the other hand, I thought Michael Brown was the perfect patsy to follow our future orders as head of FEMA; but the guy was so clueless, he blew it big time in New Orleans and dug a huge political hole for us to climb out of. But we'll do it. I just hope I have enough time before that reckless Patrick Fitzgerald guy lowers the indictment boom on us. That turncoat! But I think I can fix that too; "national security" requires he back off. I think he's getting the message. The Boy Genius rides again.

But we're going to have to do a lot of education and spinning to conceal the true nature of FEMA. Most people think of it as the nation's disaster agency. But as more and more attention gets focused on it, there's the risk of its true nature getting out -- that its more covert function is that of an invisible government, an enforcement agency beholden to the President that is above and outside the law. All the more reason to restrict press access to information in New Orleans and environs. Time to move on, get our nominees onto the Supreme Court, no looking backwards, no Blame Game -- mainly 'cause we'd get blamed for sure.

What we need right now is for something happening in the world that would focus the public's attention elsewhere. Are the Israelis about to bomb the Iran nuke reactor yet? Any hints of an impending al-Qaida attack in the U.S.? Golden Gate Bridge? Sears Tower? More anthrax mail? Anything?

I think I'll go re-read the chapter on the Reichstag Fire.

Bernard Weiner, co-editor of Crisis Papers.org, has written numerous satires and fantasies about the Bush Administration. A Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at various universities and was a writer-editor with the San Francisco Chronicle. To comment, write crisispapers@comcast.net.

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