badge Tomorrow, we hold our first virtual meeting of the self-managed team developing the Freedom 2004 Meme, the slogan-and-story set we hope will resonate with the moderate, the undecided voter in 2004, and help us overthrow “the worst president in American history”.

This week’s lead-off comment in the New Yorker by Hendrik Hertzberg, Building Nations, neatly and articulately contrasts the Bush policies in dealing with America and with Iraq. We have agreed that our meme needs to focus on the former. Here are the excerpts from Hertzberg’s comment that tell us what we’re up against:

It’s tempting to suggest that the Bush Administration is failing to provide Iraq with functioning, efficient, reliable public services because it doesn’t believe in functioning, efficient, reliable public services — doesn’t believe that they should exist, and doesn?t really believe that they can exist. The reigning ideologues in Washington — not only in the White House but also in the Republican congressional leadership, in the faction that dominates the Supreme Court, and in the conservative press and think tanks — believe in free markets, individual initiative, and private schools and private charity as substitutes for public provision. They believe that the armed individual citizen is the ultimate guarantor of public safety. They do not, at bottom, believe that society, through the mechanisms of democratic government, has a moral obligation to provide care for the sick, food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, and education for all; and to the extent that they tolerate such activities they do so grudgingly, out of political necessity. They believe that the private sector is sovereign, and that taxes are a species of theft.

The Bush Administration no longer flaunts its contempt for nation-building abroad, but it remains resolutely hostile to nation-building at home. Its domestic policy consists almost solely of a never-ending campaign to reduce the taxes of the very rich. Not all of this largesse will be paid for by loading debt onto future generations. Some of it is being paid for right now, by cuts in public services — cuts that outweigh the spare-change breaks for less affluent families which the Administration, in selling its successive tax elixirs, has had to include in order to suppress the electorate’s gag reflex. The pain is especially acute at the state level, where net federal help is in decline. States are cancelling school construction, truncating the academic year, increasing class sizes, and eliminating preschool and after-school programs. Health benefits are being slashed, and a million people will likely lose coverage altogether. In many states, even cops are getting laid off.

Whatever one may think of the global democratic-imperial ambitions of the present Administration, they cannot long coexist with the combination of narrow greed and public neglect it thinks sufficient for what it is pleased to call the homeland. At some point — the sooner the better — a critical mass of Americans will notice.

As the outsider in the team, I continue to be amazed that the worst president in American history isn’t also the most unpopular president in American history. The fact that he has a chance at re-election brings home just how different 21st century America is from every other country on the globe. This brand of ‘nation-building’ leaves me bewildered, and aghast.

This entry was posted in How the World Really Works. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. voodoolulu says:

    I’m encouraged that people are getting organized for what is going to be the difficult but not impossible job of unseating GW. However, I don’t feel enough progressives are paying attention to the lock-down he has on his media image – directly leading to his popularity numbers. The May 16th nytimes article is already in archives, if you missed it there’s a summary:http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F7091EFD3C5A0C758DDDAC0894DB404482It spoke in detail about the camera and lighting experts the Bush team has hired to meticulously mold his image. Professionals I believe from ABC, and another network. They are basically making the “movie-of-the-week”, as they go. It’s their job to make him look like a star. They are doing their job well and he looks hot.This is not the only “Hollywood-Style” media crew in the country for hire. Plenty of talented TV & film people are out of work or underemployed due to the economy. The Democrats would do well to hire a Dream-team themselves, instead of b*ing about how glorious GW looks all the time. The American public, unlike your average Salon blogger is not following the details of policy decisions. They’re following the Sosa cork controversy and Scott Peterson’s trial. And if Bush looks good on TV, they feel good as Americans and they’re gonna vote for him unless someone else, can look damn good too.

  2. Marie Foster says:

    I wonder if the US will not end up looking like Iraq or Afghanistan if Bush Co. is allowed to fullfill its ideas about government. The irony of course is that they are ‘the government’.

  3. kyte says:

    What really really puzzles me (as an outsider) is why Bush has not been impeached for his lies and deception. They went after Clinton for not keeping it in his pants and a real estate deal or two, and here, you have this non-elected lunatic who got where he is by lies and deception, who got two wars (so far) happening through lies and deception, and who is ruining your country and many others …and… no impeachment. I don’t get it.

  4. Dave Pollard says:

    I don’t get it either, kyte. Liberals seem to be more forgiving, and less likely to resort to the courts, than conservatives, facing the same situation. Consensus vs. confrontation. Lulu, I think you’re right — it would behove the Dems to pick someone charismatic and attractive to start with, and have the PR people working hard to make him look even better (as true for politicians as rock stars!). As long as he has the right principles and some basic articulateness, of course.

  5. Marie Foster says:

    There is a good book about what has happened in America. I just watched NOW with Bill Moyers and he had the author Theda Skocpol on talking about it. The name of the book is Diminished Democracy. And she has a good handle on what the right has done more correctly than the left. She also has good prescription for what progressives need to do to retake our rightful place in our democracy. The book is described at this link.http://www.oupress.com/bookdetail.asp?isbn=0-8061-3532-8

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    Good catch, Marie. Another addition to my reading list.

  7. Keep watching those poll numbers, fellow memesters. Especially the ones regarding the economy. The crows are coming home to roost with a vengeance. Only a monumental screwup by the opposition will give King George a second term.

  8. Doug Alder says:

    No Christopher I wish you were right but you’re not. htere are all kinds of reasons why George is going to be re-elected. First there’s all those computerized voting machines, the cose and proccesses of which are not open for scrutiny, and the company running them is one of the ones involved in the Florida 2000 scandal. Secondly there’s the knee jerk patriotism that so many Americans exhibit. Let there be a war or threat of terrorism and they immediately, and mistakenly, believe that failure to support POTUS is tantamount to treason. Do you really think the Bushies aren’t going to take advantage of that? Over the next 14 or 15 months you can expect a series of “incidents” with most likely Iran. Tensions will rise and somewhere around September 2004 Bush will go to war again. Long enough in advance of the election to whip up anoth fervor of patriotism, not long enough for the horrendous US casualties, that are guaranteed this time, to register on the overall american consciousness (Iran will be nowhere near the pushover that Iraq was). If he goes this route re-election will be a cakewalk.

  9. Doug Alder says:

    excuse my lousy typing :-) ” the cose and proccesses” should be code and processes

Comments are closed.