The GOP Playbook: How to Steal the Vote
From the start, George W. Bush has pointedly refused to ask that we make any national sacrifice to help us win the "war on terror." Soon after 9/11 he urged us not to curb our appetites in any way, although to do so would have made much sense, and makes sense now. After all, it's oil, in part, that U.S. troops are fighting for, and oil that indirectly pays for all the guns and bombs now blowing those troops, and countless others, to shreds. The patriotic thing would therefore be to lessen our national dependency on fossil fuels, by driving less (or not at all), and turning off the air conditioners, by buying fewer disposables, and otherwise deferring to the greater good. Bush, however, will have none of that, asserting that the best thing we can do to help win this war is just go shopping.
Yet in one respect it's not exactly right to say that our president has asked nothing of us. Since 9/11, Bush has made astonishing demands on all his fellow citizens, asking us to swallow more baloney than the U.S. government has ever fed the people of this country. He and his team have asked us to believe that 9/11 came as a complete surprise, that Saddam Hussein was part of it, and that Iraq would soon be lobbing atom bombs, poison gas, and lethal pathogens at Tel Aviv and Disney World. They also asked us to believe that the Iraqi people would bestrew our troops with flowers, then that the "mission" had been "accomplished," then that those friendly natives had been overrun by "foreign terrorists" intent on wrecking the "democracy" that we were there to build. And now Bush asks us to believe that things aren't half as bad in Iraq (not to mention Afghanistan), as they appear, and that his team can win this war.
That most Americans do not believe a word of it, and therefore will not vote Republican, attests to the diffusive power of truth, which in this country still resonates despite the efforts of both government and media to bury it. Bush's big lies have prevailed not just because his regime has so doggedly promoted them. For too long, those howlers also had the benefit of a compliant press that simply echoed them.
But the truth about Iraq could not be spun away as more and more Americans encountered it, traumatically, in their own lives, and as the word spread ever further through the Internet and other unofficial channels—an arduous process of enlightenment that the press has only recently begun to help along. (The Democrats have mostly sat there mute.) And so the White House's claims about Iraq—and about 9/11, Afghanistan, Katrina, the economy, the public schools, the global climate and the GOP's respect for "family values"—strike millions of Americans as utter hooey.