Thursday, November 04, 2004


Is it really that simple – John Kerry was voted off the island?

According to Digby, it is.

TV With The Sound Turned Off

I'm too weary and dispirited right now to get into the inevitable fight that's gearing up within the party, but suffice to say I don't agree that we lost because we weren't liberal enough. But, neither was it because we weren't culturally conservative enough or populist enough. I believe it was simply because we weren't entertaining enough and that's the sad truth. I think that Democrats are serious, earnest and substantive people. We are the reality-based community. And I think we top out at about forty eight percent of the population. For everybody else politics is show business, whether in religious, political or media terms. Image trumps substance,charisma and personality trump everything. I don't find George W. Bush appealing in any way because my vision of an attractive politician is that he be smart, competent and rhetorically talented. But, to many people, politics is interesting because of the spectacle and the tribal competition and they just aren't interested in any other aspects of it. (See the PEW poll.) Oh, they mouth all the right platitudes about values and all, but this is not about governing for them because they have been taught that government is only relevant to their lives in that it houses their enemies --- liberals who want to take things from them and force things on them. This is a reality TV show and they want to vote someone off the island.

It's clear that a small majority of the country buy Junior's "Top-Gun" act. His youthful failures are seen as acts of anti-hero rebelliousness. His smart ass attitude is the sign of a macho rogue. He isn't the smartest guy in the class and he's often in trouble, but he's a fearless warrior when it counts. His image is of a fun loving rascal who found himself in an extraordinary position and rose to the occasion. I know it's bullshit, but that's the archetype that his handlers have laid upon him and it's a role he plays with relish. We know from the polling that most of Bush's supporters are misinformed about his positions on the issues, so it's not a matter of backing his agenda. They don't know what it really is. And his religious base may believe that moral values are their highest priority, but since they are so very forgiving of their right wing brethren (Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Bennet,Gingrich, Swaggert, Bakker) when they stray from the straight and narrow, it's pretty clear that their high moral standards are extremely selective. I heard over and over again this election, people who said, "he looks you in the eye," as a reason for voting for him. That's not character. That's performance.

If, as the gasbags pontificating about all day, the Democrats decide that our "problem" is that we aren't appealing to the heartland conservative values, they need to think again. It's not about the substance of Republican appeals to values, it's about the style with which they do it and the level of pure, primitive tribal identification they provide. It would be a grave mistake to misunderstand this slim electoral majority as a comment on real values. It's a comment on production values. The Republicans have 'em and we don't.

John Kerry is the most qualified man to be president in my lifetime. And he might have won except for one thing. He couldn't fill the role that certain voters require in a president in this era --- he just wasn't enough of an archetypal TV hero. That's no knock on him, it's a knock on America. I know it's not politic to say it, but a majority of this country are obviously dumb as posts. Still, it's the only country we've got and we are going to have to come to terms with this.

Whatever the reasons, I'm devastated about this outcome, of course. But there is a silver lining. We here in the reality based community know full well that Bush and his minions have been dancing as fast as they can to get through this election. They have been desperate to avoid setting off an array of landmines with hair triggers. I am going to enjoy watching him try to deal with them as they begin to blow up in his face one by one. In many ways it is poetic justice that he is going to have to attempt to clean up the huge fetid, stinking mess he's foisted on this country.

Too bad about the human carnage though.

Again, I think Digby is far too optimistic. George Bush hasn't cleaned up a damn thing in his life. All he has done is make messes for other people to clean up. Which they have done with alacrity. What makes us think any of this is going to change now? He fucked up the past 4 years and was rewarded for it with a chance to fuck up the next four. Which I'm sure he is going to do with his usual consummate skill. And what do you bet he gets off scot-free once more? If the people are really as dumb as Digby thinks, if they haven't learned a thing from the past four years, I'm not willing to stake a lot on the hope that they'll suddenly start really paying attention and figuring things out over the next four.

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