Democratic Underground

The Whirling Dervishes of the RNC

October 5, 2004
By Steven Vincent

"Whirling Dervish" is not just a phrase, it is an actual religious practice. The Dervish spins around faster and faster to achieve a hypnotic state of being. The purpose of the ritual whirling is for the Dervish to empty himself of all distracting thoughts, achieving a trance-like state beyond reality.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, they have been forced to adopt this centuries-old technique to help them deal with the "catastophic success" of the first Presidential debate.

Watch them spin and spin. Aren't they mesmerizing? Gaze upon the mysterious powers of the Whirling Dervishes of the RNC and forget what you saw in the debates. Despite all evidence to the contrary, these mystical creatures of denial went into a transfixed spin mode to try to save the object of their worship, George W. Bush.

The Republicans need mass hypnosis to make America forget what happened in the first debate.

After Thursday night's pathetic performance by the president, there was a clear and obvious winner in the form of candidate John Kerry. Kerry was superior in every aspect in the debate. From poise and stature to a clear and consistent articulation of his message, John Kerry out-presidented the president.

Bush, on the other hand was petulent and pouty, confounded and confused, repetitive and routed. It was the most pathetic performance from a commander-in-chief since Bush's last open press conference.

There were some honest moments of clarity from some of the partisan witness to the slaughter:

Joe Scarborough: I've heard some people earlier this week act contentiously towards those of us who would ask that question after the debate, did they look presidential or not. I think it's an important question. I think it's an important question because I think that's what Americans are looking at, especially from a challenger. ... Who looked more presidential tonight? I'll answer the question first as a Republican. I think John Kerry looked more presidential.

Bill Kristol, Weekly Standard: I think Kerry did pretty well tonight, he was forceful and articulate.

Mort Kondracke: This is the President's turf, this is the place that the President is supposed to dominate, terror and the war in Iraq. I don't think he really dominated tonight. I think Kerry looked like a commander-in-chief.

But just two short days later, delusion settled over the partisan pundits like a morphine fog. The popular device I have heard used is; Kerry had more style but Bush's message was clearer and more consistent.


If Bush had a message, it was lost in all his stammering, stuttering and angry stares. His floundering was painful to watch and an embarrasment to our country.

This man who stared like a possum caught in the harsh gleam of the high beam is supposedly steering our foreign policy with a steady hand and determined gait.

"Confident," "sure," and "decisive" are the buzzwords repeated ad nauseum by his fans. He did not portray any of these qualities Thursday night.

Even at Free Republic, the rabidly pro-Bush website, the meltdown of his supporters was abundantly evident by the panicked comments posted during and after the debate:

"I feel sick in my stomach. I think Kerry is winning hands down. I hate to say it, but its what I feel."

"I don't think I have ever seen such a lopsided debate. Bush has lost his footing if he ever had it."

"I don't like this. Bush is doing just about as poorly as he possibly could do."

"I agree. I had to shut it off for fear of rubbing my face in the floor in frustration. Bush used a 30 second rebuttal to say the same thing he said four times already. Word for word. And even stuttered and stumbled while saying it."

"THIS IS HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!"

"We may have lost the election tonight."

Never ones to be distracted by blatant truth, the president's allies went to work almost immediately to spin the pig's ear of the president's failed performance into a silk purse.

The pursed smiles and tight faces of the RNC Dervishes as they came in to face the media reflected their failed hopes and dashed dreams for what the debates might have produced.

Reality did not affect their ability to lie with straight faces, however. Some of their comments:

Rudy Guilliani: I thought it went very, very well.

Ralph Reed: The president was clear and resolute tonight.

Dan Bartlett: Tonight was a strong showing for the President.

And the audacity increased as time began to smooth the edges of the sharp truth we all witnessed. Far from the lie that Bush tied Kerry, right wing editorialists and pundits across the country were spinning the pathetic performance of the President into a win. A WIN?

(Emphasis mine in the following excerpts.)

Dallas News: Crisp, authoritative and articulate, both George W. Bush and John Kerry were at the top of their respective games. We call it a draw. But because Mr. Kerry did not get the breakout performance that he needs to turn this race around heading into the homestretch, the president won by not losing.

Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle: Bush won the debate with Kerry...he won on substance. You can count me in agreement with the 37 percent of Americans who told the CNN/Gallup poll that Bush got the better of John Kerry. (37% as compared to 53% who said Kerry won.)

Cal Thomas: The president was at his best when he mentioned time he spent with a particular war widow. Kerry was the most articulate and won on presentation and style. But on substance, experience, vision and conviction, it was President Bush's debate to lose. He didn't.

Cam Edwards, NRA Web Radio DJ: I think when those undecideds start parsing what he actually said, Bush wins on substance.

Spin my little Dervishes. Twirl until the unease you felt watching this president make a fool of himself, you, and America, fades into the comfortable numbness of self-induced mental fuzziness.

Now, repeat after me, "Bush won the debate." Spin that mantra until you believe it is true.

All of that whirling will be good practice for November 3rd. But the reality of that day will not be so easily spun.

Visit Steven Vincent's blog at

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