Friday, October 15, 2004


Break's Over

My 'rod' shall comfort thee
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

Television news is Karl Rove's best and most reliable tool. Most of the time, it's a passive one. The professional idiots on TV will, without much prompting, talk up anything if it's somehow tittilating - 'Where's Chandra?'; Shark Attacks!; the Dean Scream; etc. Sometimes they get an overt nudge from Mr Pudding Pants, as in the case of the Swift Boat Assholes For Filth. The result is always the same: preposterous - sometimes pernicious - distraction. The 'news' - especially cable news - creates the illusion of vibrant, teeming life ('American Morning') so you can passively sit back and pretend to be alive. The 'American Spectator'!

But aside from the current standard-issue Mary Cheney brou-ha - no, we need an even snottier, more WASPy, polo-shirt word for it; how about 'kerfuffle'? - there are actually some liberals out there wringing their hands about Kerry's mention of her in the third debate. Steve Clemmons originally called it 'gratuitous' (although he did backtrack a bit); others have called it a 'low blow'. (Eric Martin explains why this is simply wrong).

Attention liberals (and by 'liberals' I mean anyone to the 'left' of Dwight Eisenhower)! Pop your heads out of your asses! Not only was there nothing wrong with what Kerry said, but - although he was a little awkward, stylistically - it was exactly the right thing to say. Liberals (and by 'liberals' I mean non-reactionaries) lose and lose because we don't have the courage of our convictions, are unwilling to fight for those convictions, and NOT primarily because of what those convictions are. We have an opponent whose goal is to destroy us, while our goal is to beat them at chess. Guess who prevails in that scenario?

The two sides in this matter couldn't be clearer: on the one side, the Federal Marriage Amendment, which seeks - however improbably - to embed religious and sexual bigotry into our constitution; on the other, a belief in equal civil rights for all. Any questions? Will Edwards' and then Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney alert or remind some 'evangelical' bigots out there that Cheney 'tolerates' a gay daughter? Might that suppress their turnout at the polls? LET'S HOPE SO. If that's 'hardball', we need to play a lot more of it.

Let's get down to brass tacks, here. Osama bin-Laden is a bad Muslim. Jimmy Swaggert is a bad Christian. No, we don't have to be 'tolerant' and 'respectful' of their beliefs when they are trying to shove them down everyone else's throats. Jesus himself understood, 2000 years ago, the distinction between Church and State, for christ's sake ('Render unto Caesar...').

This is war, of a sort. The separation of Church and State is about as basic and fundamental an American value as there is. Why are we fighting insane theocracy abroad and equivocating about it here at home? If you believe in Religious War, it makes perfect sense, but not otherwise. Am I suggesting that liberals fight the way Rove does? Yes and no. We need to be as canny and tough as Rove, but we don't need to lie and slander and cheat. The current grotesque incarnation of the Republican party has provided all the ammunition we need, if we will only use it.

Many people putatively of the Right in America despise liberals because we won't fight for what we believe in. They are absolutely right to. If we won't fight hard against what is probably the worst, most dangerous government in our history, we don't deserve to win.

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