Wednesday, September 08, 2004
It didn’t take long for hyper-alert postmodern blogger/reader Tristero to discern that my previous post on David Gelernter was in fact a hoax. Damn Tristero and his whole shadowy underground society!
in cyber-homage to the great modern masters Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov, Bérubé goes to the enormous trouble of faking a right wing screed and then commenting upon it.
In his post, Bérubé discusses an op-ed improbably entitled “Bush’s Greatness,” composed, Michael tells us, by Yale Professor David Gelernter, a real person known for his unusual opinions. To provide an extra frisson of verisimilitude, Michael even hacked up a very convincing simulation of the Weekly Standard website upon which Bérubé has embedded the complete text of “Bush’s Greatness.” Ars longa, vita brevis, you betcha!
How did Tristero pierce the veil, you ask? Well, it appears that at a crucial point in the simulation, my parody of right-wing nuttiness simply jumped the shark:
But then, alas . . .
The article becomes too clever by half. “Professor Gelernter” slips into a rant, devoting paragraph after mind-boggling paragraph to an elaborate comparison of the country of Iraq to . . . Kitty Genovese.
The senses reel at the weird, unexpected juxtaposition of images. A woman bleeding to death and screaming, her only witness the immaculate lawns of Forest Hills. Superimposed over her horror-struck features we perceive an hallucination of Islamists, of fascists, of mercenaries, of American neocons, of God knows what else, all of them clamoring for power, all of them crawling on their bellies in an oil rich Hobbesian landscape.
And thus slips Our Satirist’s mask.
For ‘tis a fact: No rightwing nut, no matter how deranged, no matter how clever, would ever come up with such a completely original (albeit idiotic) comparison.
OK, so Tristero nailed me. No hallowed skein of stars can ward, I trow, who’s once been set his tryst with Tristero! But, dear readers, even though I know some of you are tired of finding layer after layer of annoying postmodern irony on this humble blog, I confess that I really thought I could pull this one off with impunity. Honestly, after my post-convention discovery of Roger Simon’s convention coverage, in which I learned that my parodies of Koch-kissin’, Zell-lovin’ bloggers were but pale shadows of the self-parodies of Koch-kissin’, Zell-lovin’ bloggers themselves, I figured I could attribute any number of bizarro-world lunatic ravings to the wingnuts (even a comparison of Iraq to Kitty Genovese!) and nobody would be the wiser. So with a little help from my English Department colleague Charles Kinbote, I downloaded the Eystein Reality Generator, an open-source device that tinges any website simulacrum with an eerie pale fire, and put together my elaborate Weekly Standard parody in the course of an afternoon.
And I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids and your weird “Don’t Ever Antagonize The Horn” cult!!!
Instead, Tristero has gone ahead and ripped off the mask. And so today I find in my emailbox a “cease and desist” letter from the legal firm of Warpe, Wistfull, Kubitschek and McMingus, signed by somebody named Metzger. It reads, in part:
Dear Michael Bérubé:
We have been informed by our client that your weblog has provided a misleading and possibly fraudulent hyperlink to what purports to be the Weekly Standard website, and that you have made available, by means of this hyperlink, an essay which purports to be an article by Yale computer science professor David Gelernter.
Intellectual property law with regard to Internet websites is admittedly unsettled on matters such as this, but it is our opinion that this hyperlink constitutes actionable copyright infringement as well as material misrepresentation amounting to fraud. By suggesting that the Weekly Standard would publish an essay so deranged as to compare Iraq to Kitty Genovese, you have done material harm to the Weekly Standard and its reputation as a legitimate journal of conservative opinion and political analysis.
We will shortly be in touch with your attorneys regarding this matter. In the meantime, our client requests also that we advise you to stop doing your William Kristol impersonation at dinner parties. Mr. Kristol’s smug, supercilious demeanor is an integral part of his distinctive ‘branding’ as a media personality, and may not be imitated, adopted, or parodied without the express written consent of the Weekly Standard.
So thanks a lot, Mr. Tristero sir. I hope you’re happy now.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Neighborhood Wingnut Watch
We all know how impossible it’s been to debate the right on Iraq. They truly believe that Iraq was behind 9/11 (or the anthrax attacks) or that Iraq wanted to help with 9/11 (or the anthrax attacks) or that Iraq was planning something more or less like 9/11 (or the anthrax attacks) at some point in the future, and that’s why they think of Bush as a resolute, heroic president with a spine of steel. Trust me on this one—when they hail Bush as a straight talker, it’s not because they’re thinking, “I know I can trust George Bush to offer a tax credit to encourage small businesses and their employees to set up health savings accounts and provide direct help for low-income Americans to purchase them, just like he said in his acceptance speech. Hell, yes. Bush is just the kind of ‘tax-credit-to-encourage-small-businesses-and-their-employees-to-set-up-health-savings-accounts’ president we need in wartime.” Nope, it’s about Iraq, always about Iraq. We haven’t been able to make a dent in this one, nor will we. Here’s why.
When we say, “He based his case for war on Saddam’s possession of WMD and then didn’t let the inspectors do their job,” they say, “Damn right! Bush would never give the girlie-men of the UN sovereignty over the United States!”
When we say, “He approved the use of torture and created the conditions for the rape, abuse, torture and killing of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, thus ensuring that Al-Qaeda would have a deep pool of recruits in the Arab world for years to come,” they say, “Shit yes! None of that John Kerry yes no maybe bowl of mush for terrorists!”
And when we say, “He cooked every piece of intelligence on Iraq, refusing to hear from CIA and DIA officials who dissented from the Feith-Wolfowitz fantasy that the war would be a cakewalk and Americans would be showered with roses,” they say, “Now that’s what I’m talking about!! Bush is a man through and through—he didn’t move until every piece of intelligence was thoroughly cooked. None of that femmy liberal-elite ‘steak tartare’ intelligence for Bush—when Dubya cooks intelligence, he does it Texas-style!”
OK, now that we understand there’s nothing we could say that would convince them of anything, let’s take a look at a new essay by Yale computer science professor David Gelernter in the most recent issue of the Weekly Standard.
Gelernter opens by noting that Bush’s opponents are even weirder than lunatics:
IT’S OBVIOUS not only that George W. Bush has already earned his Great President badge (which might even outrank the Silver Star) but that much of the opposition to Bush has a remarkable and very special quality; one might be tempted to call it “lunacy.” But that’s too easy. The “special quality” of anti-Bush opposition tells a more significant, stranger story than that.
I should note at the outset that Gelernter’s essay is not one of those faggy affairs in which you’ll find that flip-floppy French “nuance.” In fact, if you skip ahead to the end of the essay, you’ll learn that Bush is a “progressive president in the best sense,” and that opposition to Bush is the work of “reactionary liberals” who “want everything to stay just the same.” Worse still, Gelernter points out, liberals’ attacks on the president and on “uppity white conservatives” are in fact racist attacks. No, I am not making this up—Gelernter really says that the “liberal elite” has been launching “racist attacks” on Bush. (And then, as Gelernter should have added, they take another sip from their chardonnay and denounce racism. What hypocrites!)
But if you skip ahead to the end, you’ll miss the best part—Gelernter’s analogy between Iraq and Kitty Genovese. I’ll give you a second to go and put on your Mylex “Irony-Off” protective outergear . . .
OK, good. Now here we go. Take it away, Professor Gelernter:
For years the Iraqi people had been screaming, in effect: “Oh, my God. Please help me! Please help me! I’m dying!” How could America have answered, “We don’t want to get involved”? We are the biggest kid on the playground. If we won’t help, who will?
I have just quoted the death-cries of Kitty Genovese, who died on the streets of New York 40 years ago. And I have quoted the response of an onlooker who didn’t feel like helping. Her case still resonates in America’s conscience, and tells us more than we want to know about the president’s enemies.
The New York Times ran the story in March 1964.
“For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.
“Twice the sound of their voices and the sudden glow of their bedroom lights interrupted him and frightened him off. Each time he returned, sought her out and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead.”
The left wanted America to watch Saddam stab Iraq to death and do nothing. That is the left’s concept of moral responsibility in the post-Cold War world.
Miss Genovese screamed: “Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me!”
The Iraqi people were dying. The left had no pity. The Bush-haters were opposed to American “arrogance.” The New York Times shrugged.
So let’s think this one out slowly. Iraq cried out piteously for an American invasion to deliver Iraqis from Saddam. But the left refused to listen to Iraqis’ pleas—and that’s the left’s concept of morality for you!
(And I should add that this is not a new phenomenon, either. Surely Gelernter remembers the travesties of the early 1980s, when Donald Rumsfeld’s organization, “Conservatives for Peace in the Middle East,” held a candlelight vigil for Saddam’s victims while Jimmy “Friend to Thugs” Carter snuck into Baghdad in a daring pre-dawn mission and gave Saddam caches of chemical weapons while the rest of the left rolled over and went back to sleep.)
Now, some of you might be shocked and awed at Gelernter’s audacious Iraq-is-Kitty-Genovese gambit. Sure, one might be tempted to call it “lunacy.” But that’s too easy. Because it helps to explain why the warfloggers think they can claim the moral high ground even while supporting and defending everything that went on in Abu Ghraib.
Imagine that the U.S. armed forces came to help poor Kitty Genovese—and then she responded by screaming, “I didn’t want to be occupied by the United States” and blowing up about a thousand American soldiers. Suddenly she’s not a damsel in distress any more, is she, now—no, now she’s a murderous bitch, and the sooner we can slap a Hefty bag over her head and feed her to the dogs, the better. If Iraq is somehow Kitty Genovese, then the prowar right’s sense of its unique moral virtue and the prowar right’s vicious rage at Iraqis actually enhance each other.
Against a set of assumptions like Gelernter’s, there’s literally nothing the left can do: if things were to go well in Iraq, that would prove that Bush was right to invade—and if things go badly, as they have gone for over a year now, it proves a fortiori that Bush was right to invade. Thus we have the mind-numbing spectacle of a war in Iraq that so far has fulfilled nearly every single one of our predictions and defeated nearly every single one of theirs, but their side turns out to be right and just, because it only goes to show that Bush had the cojones to take it to those [innocent, pleading] [vicious, ungrateful] Iraqis. We came to save them from Saddam, and this is how they repay us?
The logical problem here is, of course, much wider than Iraq—it applies to the entire War on Terra. If there are no terrorist attacks, that proves that Bush is right, because he is a strong leader who defeats terrorists; and when terrorist attacks occur, they prove a fortiori that Bush is right, because these terrorist scum remind us of what we’re fighting against—unlike the left, which would prefer to let terrorists stab Kitty Genovese to death and do nothing.
And that is why this humble blog suggests that if you do come across one of these “Bush-is-great-because-he-led-the-charge-to-Baghdad” warfloggers in your neighborhood, you should not attempt to reason with him. He is extremely dangerous, and may in fact attempt to “liberate” one of your female neighbors. Instead, report his presence to your local liberal blogger for immediate satirization. If you insist on taking matters into your own hands, you should first establish a Neighborhood Watch to try to fend off particularly delusional warfloggers with concealed irony, pepper-spray parodies, and other weapons of mass derision. Check out the Doug Piranha Society nearest you for more details.
Monday, September 06, 2004
The most trusted name in news analysis
It looks like my Republican National Convention blogging was a huge success! I’m not talking about the numbers of new readers it brought to this site—although I’m really glad to have you. No, I’m referring to the fact that my account of the Convention has become this week’s Conventional Wisdom. That’s right, folks, the Bush Bounce started right here!
Look for example at the latest column by the Dean of Conventional Wisdom, David Broder himself. “On the first three nights of the convention, the major speakers had sliced and diced Democratic nominee John Kerry but otherwise had been stuck on a single note: the threat of terrorism.” Right-O! And who had the most convincing, compelling account of the slicing and dicing? Why, I did! While everyone else was mewling and whimpering, “um, John Kerry didn’t really vote against those weapons systems” and “oh, oh, I don’t think he ever said he’d give the United Nations veto power over U.S. military actions” and “it’s not quite true, in a philosophical sense, that he ever claimed that the U.S. was engaged in an illegal occupation of Iraq,” blah blah blah, hello liberal quibblers, like anyone’s even listening to you, this blog performed the crucial public service of taking every single GOP claim at face value, the way our media should do. Did I make mistakes? Yes, yes I did. In my haste to wrap up my accounts of the convention by 3 am each morning, I forgot to urge you all to thrill to the story of how Arnold Schwarzenegger, armed only with a pair of 150-pound dumbbells, managed to fight off the Soviet tanks that tried to crush his homeland during the dark Vienna Spring of 1968—finally escaping to the United States where he heard Hubert Humphrey saying that he supported the Soviet invasion of Austria! No wonder Nixon was a breath of fresh air. My bad, folks!
More interestingly still, alert reader Al Lert has alerted me to the fact that my blogging of the RNC was almost identical to that of novelist/screenwriter/ blogger Roger L. Simon. Check it out! It’s just too uncanny to be true!!
On the honor and dignity that is Ed Koch:
Me: For a quarter century, the name “Ed Koch” has been synonymous with integrity and rectitude—he’s a beacon of sanity and light in dark times. If he says George Bush is our man, I think Democrats should sit up straight and listen.
And Roger Simon:
Koch is my man. He is pro War on Terror and pro same sex marriage. He is a moral man of guts who, as a lifetime Democrat, was willing to speak in favor of Bush.
On the warm and fuzzy feelings of that first moderate and tolerant inclusive compassionate night:
Me: These people really seem very nice, once you get to meet them. They’re not wild-eyed ideologues—they’re just ordinary folks, sitting there in Madison Square Garden, trying to have a good time. They’re as sensible as you or your grandmother, and all they want is for people to love one another, inclusively, in a big tent that is inclusive.
And Roger Simon:
Listening to Giuliani and McCain last night, I was starting to think, well, this Republican thing ain’t so bad. Just like when I listen to Lieberman or Evan Bayh I think the same thing about Democrats—hey, these folks make sense.
On Zell Miller, the last honest Democrat in America:
Me: The Zellraiser started off on fire: “Where is the bipartisanship in this country when we need it most?” he asked. Our nation is being torn apart by Democrats and their obsession to bring down our Commander-in-Chief! And that, my friends, is why we cannot unite the country the way we so desperately want to: these goddamn Democrats are a bunch of soft-bellied traitors! They insist on seeing American soldiers as occupiers, not liberators, when in fact, as Zell pointed out, the soldier, not the reporter, has given us the freedom of the press. Many cheers for this line from the crowd below me in the Garden! Screw those reporters who abuse the freedom of the press! Just like the soldier, not the agitator, has given us freedom of expression. Damn to hell fire those protestors who abuse the privilege of freedom of speech! Real American patriots know that dissent is possible only in America, and therefore unnecessary. Actual dissenters, who don’t bathe very often and who habitually abuse the privilege granted them by the military, are therefore traitors. To Gitmo with ‘em all!
And Roger Simon:
I’d like to log in on Zell Miller. That was one down home stemwinder out of the 1930s he gave and I agreed with pretty much everything he said. I think a lot of the negative reaction comes from the general lack of (or fear of) honesty in polite society. You’re not supposed to say what you think. You’re supposed to mask it.
And finally, last but not least, on how Bush’s War on Terror kicks serious butt whereas Bush’s new War to Teach Our Children the Equation for the Volume of a Cone is lame-ass nanny-state nonsense:
Me: Leadership is all about “making decisions you think are right, and then standing behind those decisions.” Even when it looks like your decision to invade Iraq was based on the advice of a notorious kleptomaniac who was possibly serving as a double agent for Iranian mullahs, you stand behind your decision, because leadership is all about making decisions you think are right and then standing behind them. Um, I said that already. But that’s all right, because it makes it even more true!! And I stand firm in repeating what I said about leadership!!
. . . Why, why, why would Bush mention the economy at a time like this? I thought the important thing was that he will grab terrorists by the throat. All I wanted to know was whether he would rip out the terrorists’ jugular veins or tear their windpipes from their necks. I didn’t want to hear about whether the economy was staggering under the eight count.
And Roger Simon:
Bush is the opposite [of Kerry], the original WYSIWYG candidate—for good or nil. He knows that too and that’s the best part of him. He said as much at the end of his speech last night, acknowledging many of us don’t agree with him on everything, but still soliciting our votes. I appreciated that candor because I certainly don’t. Of course it’s hard for me to imagine a candidate I would agree with on everything, but I admit I wince particularly when he addresses the social issues. Still, that was hardly a surprise and that is the pill I will have to swallow when I vote for him.
Of course that is also why I enjoyed the stomping War on Terror speeches… Giuliani, Miller, McCain… more than I did the others. I didn’t want to be reminded of the parts of Bush’s program with which I disagree.
-- What’s my point, you ask? Well, I’m certainly not suggesting that Roger Simon copied off my hard work all week. Simon is a fine, accomplished writer in his own right, and he knows the rules about this kind of thing. I’m just saying what should be clear by now—that for conventional-wisdom peddlers and for former-liberals-turned-neocon-warriors alike, michaelberube.com is now the most trusted name in news analysis.
And about that Bush Bounce: it’s no mirage. I duplicated the Newsweek methodology myself over the weekend, polling eight Republicans, six Democrats, and six undecideds. When pushed, the undecideds broke evenly, 3-3, and the results are just devastating for Kerry: 57-43 Bush, 55-45 even with the undecided vote. This one’s over, folks. You can stick a fork in Kerry—and then you can watch him flip-flop on the grill!!
Friday, September 03, 2004
All Blogged Out
My sincere non-ironic and not-post-ironic-either thanks to everyone who stopped by this week, especially those of you who said such kind things about my work during my short but intense life as a wingnut. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated it. This RNC blogging was, shall we say, very rough on the family. Not to mention the liver. But at least I got an exhilarating helicopter ride out of it! One-way, yeah, but still.
So I’m going to take it easy this weekend, and I hope you all do the same. And if you find yourself enjoying your Labor Day, take a moment and thank your local labor-friendly progressives. You know, the folks who thought up the “weekend” in the first place.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Readers, I have to beg for your compassion and your forgiveness. I’m sorry-- I’ve never had to do this before on this humble blog, and I’m not sure exactly how to go about it. But those of you who’ve written this week to tell me that I’ve been a fool or a knave to jump to the Republicans-- what can I say? You were right. I was wrong. I should have listened to you back on Monday.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain.
By 8 pm we were all pretty buzzed here in the Garden. “You can’t spell ‘win’ without ‘w’,” said Rich Lowry, to which I replied, “you can’t spell ‘whoop-ass’ without ‘w’ either!” Whereupon we gave each other those manly hands-over-head forearm-taps that actual athletes exchange when they do something manly. The evening had started off with some light amusement-- our suite had a Kerry Pinata, and like all pinatas, this one was amazingly resilient, so we didn’t get to consume the goodies until Grover Norquist got out the blowtorch and pliers and got all medieval on its ass. And you know what the goodies were? no-bid contracts! Boo-yeah! For about two hours tonight I held in my hands the exclusive contract for the provision of electricity to Najaf. “Nick, my son,” I thought, “your tuition is definitely taken care of-- and me, I’m thinking about Hawaii.” Those were good times!
Then George Pataki took the stage. Pataki said the right words in the right order, but Pataki was not strong enough or hard enough. Seriously. He had this weird breathless delivery that ended every sentence up half an octave, and I kept closing my eyes and thinking, this has got to be Will Ferrell doing his impression of Harry Caray. At one point he said “This is no ordinary time. This is no ordinary time. The stakes could not be higher. Fate has handed our generation a grave new threat to freedom. And fortune has given us a leader who will defend that freedom. This is no ordinary time.” Yeah, OK, I get the sense that this is no ordinary time. But “fortune” has given us George Bush? What’s that about? That’s some weird, pagan-atheist stuff right there, “fortune.” I thought to myself, didn’t Pataki get the memo? The Almighty God Himself gave us George Bush. Fortune had nothing to do with it. “Fortune"-- that sounds like something Niccolo Machiavelli would say, and he was a wannabe foreign leader. Screw these northeastern gay-friendly Republicans anyway-- they’re window dressing. Or in Guiliani’s case, window cross-dressing!! Ha ha ha ha!! That line made everybody in the suite laugh so hard, and they all toasted me with their fine Republican political-elite liquor. Those were good times too!
Then came actor-Senator-actor Fred Thompson from the heart and soul of America, introducing the W. introductory video: How do you tell the story of a presidency? he asked. The story is the story of a man, which leads, inescapably, to the question of who he is. Uh, what kind of narrative theory is this, I wondered? “History throws ya what it throws ya, and you never know what’s coming,” Thompson said. Well, yeah, I guess, when that historical document full of historical information about al-Qaeda appeared out of nowhere on August 6, 2001, there was no way of knowin’ what was comin’. But better not to dwell on that, I thought.
The warmup video was intense, though! The highlight-- indeed, the very conclusion-- was Bush throwing that pitch at Yankee Stadium. That pitch told me what kind of man he is! Despite the fact that the President was encumbered by a Secret Service bulletproof vest, it was a good strong, hard and firm pitch, not a flippy or floppy or Frenchy kind of throw. It was a heroic pitch, the very pitch that George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Winston Churchill might have thrown at Yankee Stadium. And it was-- yes-- a strike, and surely Osama bin Laden noticed. Oops! Not supposed to mention Osama bin Laden. Sorry, Karl! Talk about missing the memo! Won’t happen again, I told my new friends.
And then . . . and then . . . the man himself. The thrower of strikes, the steel of spine, the President who has done more for human rights than any other President . . . Dubya!! W.!! 43!! I shouted myself hoarse. We all did.
. . . and then, for the next half hour, I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on.
We have seen a shaken economy rise to its feet.
Why, why, why would Bush mention the economy at a time like this? I thought the important thing was that he will grab terrorists by the throat. All I wanted to know was whether he would rip out the terrorists’ jugular veins or tear their windpipes from their necks. I didn’t want to hear about whether the economy was staggering under the eight count.
Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb, and found the strength to climb them. Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below.
What does this mean? We’re on top of the world? Or is it all downhill from here? And is that good or bad? Is this the valley where we turn the corner? Or did we already turn the corner before we climbed the hill? Or maybe the hill was the corner? Querulous, restive, scattered applause.
Then, some very strange family dynamics:
I am grateful to share my walk in life with Laura Bush. Americans have come to see the goodness and kindness and strength I first saw 26 years ago, and we love our First Lady.
I am a fortunate father of two spirited, intelligent, and lovely young women. I am blessed with a sister and brothers who are also my closest friends. And I will always be the proud and grateful son of George and Barbara Bush.
My father served eight years at the side of another great American-- Ronald Reagan. His spirit of optimism and goodwill and decency are in this hall, and in our hearts, and will always define our party.
Never mind the surrealist twins here. I’m thinking, whoa, dude, not a word about your dad except that he served at Reagan’s side in that out-of-the-loopy way of his? Hell, I can understand you not going into detail about Neil’s banking scandals and the whole Asian prostitution thing, sure, but “my father served eight years”? Like the antecedent of “his spirit of optimism and goodwill and decency” is Ronald Reagan, and Poppy is left twisting in the syntactical wind?
Yep, that’s the syntactical wind a-blowin’ through the Garden. Screw Poppy-- he’s a loser, baby. And here’s the next stuff. Last night it was the fires of Zell, tonight it’s the gentle Zephyr of spring:
I believe every child can learn and every school must teach, so we passed the most important federal education reform in history. Because we acted, children are making sustained progress in reading and math, America’s schools are getting better, and nothing will hold us back.
I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor America’s seniors, so I brought Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen Medicare. Now seniors are getting immediate help buying medicine. Soon every senior will be able to get prescription drug coverage, and nothing will hold us back.
I remember back in 2002 when Howard Fineman was ridiculing Democrats as the party of prescription drugs. And so does everyone else in Madison Square Garden. Clap, clap, clap, we clapped.
I believe in the energy and innovative spirit of America’s workers, entrepreneurs, farmers and ranchers, so we unleashed that energy with the largest tax relief in a generation.
OK, fair enough-- America’s farmers and ranchers, freed from the fear that their $2,000,000-and-up estates would be taxed to death by the death tax, began to clear brush with a frenzy not seen since the days of Rutherford B. Hayes. They unleashed all that energy. Very good. But where is this going?
If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch.
The first thunderous applause of the night! The Garden rocks! We are so against the world drifting toward tragedy!! We are the world-should-not-drift-toward-tragedy party!! Four more years!
High-fives all around. Here, we think, is where Bush will get hard and firm! But then something odd happens. Our man goes back to the workplace.
The times in which we work and live are changing dramatically. The workers of our parents’ generation typically had one job, one skill, one career, often with one company that provided health care and a pension. And most of those workers were men. Today, workers change jobs, even careers, many times during their lives. And in one of the most dramatic shifts our society has seen, two-thirds of all moms also work outside the home.
Uh, run that by me again? Once upon a time, workers had job security, health care, and a pension-- and most of them were men. Now we conservatives have eroded all that shit, and women work too, so our evisceration of job security and health care and pensions should be balanced by the entry of women into the workplace? Me no get.
At this point, I turned to Norquist, sitting over to my right, and said, “Grovernator, dude, this shit does not make sense.” Grover just gave me a look. Little did I know what that look meant at the time!
Meanwhile, down on the floor, things just kept getting curiouser and curiouser. Bush spoke of the “explosion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across our country.” Sure, those frivolous lawsuits have cost Americans approximately 1.8 million jobs since Bush took office, as we all know, but this is an awfully wonky point to make in an acceptance speech. He said he’d “reform and simplify the federal tax code” and “increase funding for community colleges.” And that wasn’t all. Looking out over the crowd with compassionate firmness, the President said:
As I’ve traveled the country, I’ve met many workers and small- business owners who have told me that they are worried they cannot afford health care. More than half of the uninsured are small- business employees and their families.
In a new term, we must allow small firms to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts available to big companies.
We will offer a tax credit to encourage small businesses and their employees to set up health savings accounts and provide direct help for low-income Americans to purchase them. These accounts give workers the security of insurance against major illness, the opportunity to save tax-free for routine health expenses, and the freedom of knowing you can take your account with you whenever you change jobs.
Whenever you change jobs? you know, like whenever someone moves your cheese, you can find new cheese and bring your health savings account with you! Or whenever you decide to get outsourced, you’ll have the opportunity to save tax-free! Speaking of which, what about Social Security?
We must strengthen Social Security by allowing younger workers to save some of their taxes in a personal account, a nest egg you can call your own and government can never take away.
Uh, we must strengthen Social Security by allowing people to opt out of it so that the government can never take away their money? At this point I was tugging on Grover’s sleeve, trying to get him to explain this part of the speech to me, when suddenly the President said,
As we make progress, we will require a rigorous exam before graduation. No longer will we tolerate an America in which students are not required to memorize the formula for the volume of a cone until the tenth grade-- in a new term, every American child will know that 1/3 pi r squared times h gives you the keys to an ownership society in which seven million people over the next ten years will be able to say, “this is the volume of my cone,” and we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of poor children who are eligible but not signed up for the government’s volume-of-a-cone calculation programs. We will not allow a lack of attention or information to stand between these children and the geometry equations they need.
And then, to slap down all those skeptical liberal geometry teachers out there, Bush added, “anyone who wants more details on my federal geometry agenda can find them online.”
Cheers, cheers, and more cheers. But when the cheers died down, Bush went off on this riff about how John Kerry wants to spend two quintillion dollars on government programs that tell people how to run their lives, and at that point, I had to poke Norquist again and say, “hsssst, Grovermeister man, this speech is seriously in the realm of Johnny Cochrane it-does-not-make-sense land. Bush has got to talk about grabbing terrorists’ throats, m’fren’, and-- “
Readers, I never finished that sentence. First, Grover turned to me, whistled for silence in the suite, and then took my tumbler of single-malt, walked slowly over to the wet bar, and ceremoniously dumped it in the sink. Suddenly I felt a hand on my neck and a couple of hands in the small of my back, and before I knew it, four or five of my new friends were hustling me out of the suite, into the elevator, and right out one of Madison Square Garden’s service entrances on the 31st Street side. Rich Lowry followed me down, roughly tossed my laptop and my no-bid Najaf contract to me, and said, “you should know that you’re now back on the Lynne List. And if you blog about this, you French-fried flip-flopper, you can just forget about boarding an airplane for the next four years.”
So I never got to hear the part of Bush’s speech where he talked about “the protection of marriage against activist judges,” those black-robed fornicators who roam the land looking for innocent dogs and box turtles on whose tiny, innocent bodies they can slake their illicit thirsts. And I think I was foraging for food outside the Post Office on Eighth Avenue when Bush spoke of our mission from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. If someone could please tell me whether this mission was assigned to us by one of those newly-discovered Earth-like planets, I’d appreciate it. But for now, I’ve got to find a comfortable doorway for the night.
Again, folks, I’m so sorry. It’s been a rough week all round, and I apologize to my old friends in the effete arugula-eating liberal elite. Please forgive me-- it was just so intoxicating being embraced by the real elite, being toasted around town as “the conscience of the left blogosphere” and being asked to do my “ah-agree-with-the-governor” impersonation of Al Gore. Can I please come back? I promise I’ll never be hornswaggled again. . . .
The morning after
Whew! My head is still spinning from last night. And what a night it was! It was a night of meat-- good, juicy, fleshy meat, not like those tofu-and-Belgian-endive nights you get at the Democrat conventions. I thought we got our message across loud and clear: George Bush has a spine of tempered steel. John Kerry has a spine of arugula. Bush will protect your family and smash terrorism. Kerry will sell your family into slavery in the Sudan because he thinks American troops are occupiers instead of liberators.
But then I wake up and check out the liberal media, and what do I see? Nothing but whining and whinging, coast to coast. “Oh, Zell Miller looked so angry,” say all the girlie-men in the press. “I think maybe he was a little over the top.” Hell yeah, he was angry! Damn straight, he was over the top! He was angrier than a Georgia chicken in a bread pan without any dough! Jeezus Christmas, you’d be angry too, if Chris Matthews asked you a question! Here’s this Matthews fella going on about “when Democrats come out, as they often do, liberal Democrats, and attack conservatives, and say they want to starve little kids, they want to get rid of education, they want to kill the old people” and Zell is supposed to sit still for that? How dare Chris Matthews ask the Zellster a setup question about how nasty liberals are! Zell should have taken him out right there, from ten paces. I know I would have. And now all you’re going to hear from the liberal media is “oh, oh, I think maybe Zell Miller is too ‘hot’ for television, ouch, he burned my hand, I need one of those Democrat Band-Aids with the little purple hearts on them.” Listen up, liberal media. When the devil comes down to Georgia, you bet your sweet ass he’s too “hot” for television! Fire on the mountain, run boys run!!
And what’s all this crying and moaning about how the Republicans don’t have an agenda? What, you people weren’t listening? Exactly how loud do we have to shout it out tonight? You want an agenda, we’ll give you an agenda. Take out your little girlie-man pencil cases and start writing it down in your little newspapers:
On health care: we will knock Democrats’ teeth down their throats!
On jobs: we will kick Democrats until they die of internal bleeding!
On education: we will show America that John Kerry is even more liberal than Ted Kennedy!
On the deficit: John Kerry looks French!
On the environment: John Kerry’s wife is a rich foreigner! who is insane!
On corporate crime: John Kerry shot himself to get out of Vietnam! and he was never there! and he didn’t even know how to fire a gun!
On intelligence and security: John Edwards is a pretty boy!
On nuclear proliferation: John Edwards is a trial lawyer!
On Iraq: Democrats are traitors!
So. You people want to debate the issues, we’ll give you “issues.” Tonight, our leader brings it all home. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Almost forgot! Back home in State College, Pennsylvania, three guys have smashed in the storefront window of the Centre County Democratic HQ. Now there’s a platform we can build on: A Brick For Every Democrat!!! Way to rock, boys!