Comic Book Conservatism
February 27, 2002
By Larry Martin

Coming out

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 hide behind.

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 "Evil Empire").

"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.

Marketing 101

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 sound bites.

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 enough blood.

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: "Been Lay'ed?"

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 phrase.

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?"

Homeland Security?

"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 Americans.

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 protected].