Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Party of death
Following the release of a new psychological study that indicates voters prefer George Bush over John Kerry only when they are asked to think about death, Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge has raised the terror alert level to “black,” the White House revealed today.
The new level-- “higher and worser” than red, according to President Bush-- suggests that a terrorist attack is only minutes away and will involve either flesh-eating bacteria or gradual disembowelment. However, Ridge stressed in a press conference today that the threat was “nonspecific.” “All we know is that they’re coming for you and your infant child, perhaps as we speak,” Ridge said. “The information is highly reliable, and is absolutely not based on intelligence that is three or four years old, like our last warning. Therefore we are asking Americans to go about their business as usual, but to remain in a state of gut-wrenching fear at all times.”
The new terror alert reflects a dramatic shift in administration policy over the past week, as high-ranking cabinet officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, reported that the Bush campaign had jettisoned plans to present the GOP as the party of “hope” and “optimism” in the 2004 elections. Instead, officials say, Republicans now prefer to be seen as the party of death.
“Hope? Screw hope. Optimism? Optimism can go fuck itself. Check out this passage from the CNN story,” said one official:
“There are people all over who are claiming every time Bush is in trouble he generates fear by declaring an imminent threat,” said Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, who worked on the study. “We are saying this is psychologically useful,” said Solomon. . . .
No matter what a person’s political conviction, thinking about death made them tend to favor Bush, Solomon said. Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.
“It doesn’t get much clearer than that, does it?” continued the official. “That report came out last Friday, and we raised the terror level on Monday. Now we’re simply taking it to the next level. Look-- voters now prefer Kerry on the economy, on education, on health care, on ‘cares about people like me,’ even on Iraq, for Chrissake. We’re tied in the South, and we’re even tied among veterans. What the hell do we have left? Well, I’ll tell you what. We have death. And death kicks ass.”
Despite the remarkable speed with which the terror level was raised following the release of the new study, White House sources say that there has been internal dissension in the Bush administration, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arguing that the Republicans should be the party of “swift and certain” death, and Vice President Dick Cheney insisting that the GOP should be associated instead with “protracted and agonizing” death.
“The fact that we’re talking about flesh-eating bacteria and gradual disembowelment,” said Lex Luthor, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, “suggests to me that Cheney has won this round.”
Political analysts note that the new strategy poses risks, however. “The Republicans haven’t run as the party of death in forty years,” noted Jimmy Olson of the Brookings Institution, “not since back when Barry Goldwater famously declared that ‘thermonuclear apocalypse in the defense of liberty is no vice.’ That didn’t work in ‘64, but I don’t know about now. Personally, I’m considering switching to Bush. He may be a disaster on the economy, on the environment, on energy policy, on civil liberties, and on the war, but he just might be the only man who can save me and my children from flesh-eating bacteria.”
In a related development, former Vermont governor and Presidential candidate Howard Dean was detained by federal officials and is being held indefinitely at St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital for “observation.” “The terror level is black,” said one distinguished psychiatrist assigned to Dean’s case. “We can’t have a complete lunatic like Dean running around out there.”