You Recognize Bush’s America?
to George W. Bush’s version of America—Bush Democracy. Apparently,
he has his fanatical neocon programmers working overtime to
iron out all those bothersome bugs and kinks that have been
holding the United States back for the last 228 years—exasperating
glitches like openness, integrity, accountability, responsibility
and the value of an informed public.
I have to admit, this new edition has been a little hard for
me to get used to; it’s a lot different than the America that
I grew up studying—and revering. You might be having a similar
problem, so, as a public service, I’ve decided to provide
this helpful primer. Think of it as “Bush Democracy for Dummies.”
In Bush Democracy, the messy concept of the public’s right
to know has been replaced by the far more user-friendly “Don’t
worry, we know what’s right for you.” Why clutter up the citizenry’s
hard-drive with all sorts of unimportant facts and information?
Which is why, just to be on the safe side, Bush Democracy
comes with a helpful, one-step fact-check-and-delete program.
No need to bother with taping or even transcribing important
meetings like the president’s three-hour appearance in front
of the 9/11 Commission last week—Bush Democracy decides what’s
pertinent and discards the rest into the unrecoverable recycle
bin of history.
That’s why the White House helpfully confiscated the notebooks
of the 9/11 commissioners as they were leaving the Oval Office.
Hard copies are so 20th century.
To see how liberating this kind of updated democracy can be,
look no further than the reports of the frequent laughter
that occurred during the commission’s two-birds-with-one-stone
questioning of Bush and Cheney. No longer burdened with having
to fill the public in on whether our leaders did all they
could to prevent 9/11—and have done all they can to make sure
something like it never happens again—the president and his
inquisitors were free to trade quips and zingers like a gang
of Borsht Belt second bananas at a Friars Roast.
president got off a couple of good shots,” said commission
member John “Shecky” Lehman, while commissioner Jim “Soupy”
Thompson labeled the president a “bit of a tease.” We don’t
know the specifics of anything important that was said, or
if anything important was said at all, but, hey, at least
they had some fun.
For his part, the president stressed the importance of his
and Cheney’s tandem testimony: “I think it was important for
them to see our body language . . . how we work together.”
Body-language experts agree that subtle shifts in physical
positioning—such as Cheney sticking his hand up the president’s
back and making his mouth move—can often provide significant
Bush Democracy also automatically eliminates a number of pesky
problems historically associated with that overrated First
Amendment. For example, this convenient feature allows President
Bush and his Man in Mesopotamia, Paul Bremer, to tout the
freedom of speech now permitted in post-Saddam Iraq while
simultaneously shutting down Iraqi-run newspapers and radio
and television stations. And whereas previous versions of
democracy were systemically incompatible with the quashing
of dissent, Bush Democracy makes clamping down on the free
flow of information as easy as hitting a hot key and issuing
a Pentagon ban on media coverage of flag-draped coffins arriving
at Dover Air Force Base.
What’s more, Bush Democracy’s state-of-the-art media manipulation
software makes it incredibly easy to get away with misstatements,
half-truths and out-and-out lies.
Witness the lack of outraged coverage of Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz’s astounding assertion in front of Congress
last week that the U.S. death toll in Iraq was “approximately
500”—when, in fact, at the time of his testimony, the correct
number was 722. But what are a couple hundred dead Americans
among friends? Especially when they’re other people’s children?
Or observe the scarcity of critical voices when, on the anniversary
of Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” photo op, the president
boldly declared that, as a result of the removal of Saddam,
“there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass
graves in Iraq”—a statement directly contradicted by a top-secret
Army report completed two months before the president indulged
in his soaring rhetoric. And last week we had the ultimate
contradiction: the release of enough vile, barbaric and disturbing
photographs to stock a triple-X S&M Web site.
But Bush Democracy’s killer app has got to be its ability
to retain the outward appearance of unabashed patriotism while
sacrificing the lives of American soldiers on the altar of
its tax-cutting fanaticism. Thus, candidate Bush is able to
cloak his campaign in red, white and blue at the same time
a defense industry study concludes that major budgetary shortfalls
have left U.S. soldiers seriously under-equipped—leading to
the preventable deaths of close to 200 brave Americans, and
the maiming of thousands more. Shortfalls caused, in large
measure, by the president’s tax cuts. So while many of our
soldiers have to make due without body armor, combat helmets
and properly protected vehicles, America’s millionaires are
receiving an average tax cut of $130,783. And yet Bush is
still able to continue painting himself as the war president.
How’s that for performance?
The guiding principle behind George Bush’s rebooted democracy
is a deep mistrust of the American people and an undying faith
in the ability of “the elites” to decide what is best for
America—and the world. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer
the old 1776 version, where We the People get to make up our
Bush Democracy has crashed in Iraq and crashed here at home.