Kindergarten night at the Republican National Convention was enlightening. We learned that Arnold Schwarzenegger was inspired by the Republican principles of Richard Nixon. We learned that it was possible to deliver literally hundreds of platitudes and clichés to an adoring audience and garner the accolades of a demurring media. We learned that Republican men are strong and unyielding and Republican women are gentle and soft spoken. We learned that form trumps substance, that Arnold loves the president because he is not a socialist, and that Laura loves Dubya because he is her man.
We learned that American media is bedazzled to the point of dumbstruck awe by the sheer, strategic brilliance of a high school football rally and the comforting guidance of a cub scout den mother.
Arnold is Arnold. Laura is a nice woman.
The day after American bombs killed eight villagers in Afghanistan, serving to remind us once again that the nation that christened the Bush war on terrorism remains in chaos, the first lady pays tribute to her husband’s liberation of girls and women in that forgotten and forsaken land. Perhaps someone (like Vaclav Havel) should inform her that there is no freedom in a war zone. Perhaps the first lady should remind her husband that it is only good manners to finish what he started. Perhaps they both could use a history lesson for we have left Afghanistan in the same deplorable condition that existed before the Taliban took over: In the control of warlords who have no interest in democracy or the rights of women.
Laura is a nice woman and she seems so sincere in testifying that her husband did not wish to go to war. As a great advocate of reading, however, there are a few books recently published that would enlighten her: Her husband most emphatically did want to go to war. He and his circle of advisers planned it before he took office. Didn’t he confide in his wife?
Of course, the first lady is not an expert in foreign affairs. Her field is education. Unless Karl Rove has kept her in a box, she ought to know by now that her husband’s vaunted success in Texas education was the product of Enron-like bookkeeping. Test scores were elevated by eliminating low performing students from the data pool. Now that we have applied the Texas shill game to education nationwide, we can expect similar results. As any teacher knows, schools that are under funded need funding, not punishment.
Laura’s primary role was to trot out the tag lines of her husband’s legacy: education, tax relief, health care, stem cell research, and the latest: home ownership. Upon closer examination, none of them holds up any better than Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Each but the latest has been thoroughly debunked. It will take some time to expose the lie represented by the rise in home ownership. It is the product of unreasonably low interest rates, which artificially propped up a flagging economy. The reality is: Americans are so far in debt that we will soon lose our homes if the promised turnaround does not happen. It will not happen because the jobs we are getting now cannot sustain home ownership. They can barely sustain life.
At the end of the night, we are left with this simplistic message: Because America is great, we should continue on the catastrophic path of preemptive war. Because we are still a land of opportunity, we should continue sending Americans to die in foreign lands. Because the first lady loves her husband and her children, we should continue to pretend that the worst president since Franklin Pierce is in fact a steadfast and strong leader.
Tonight, it was good enough for the Republicans and the media that covered it.
It is not good enough for a nation in crisis.
JACK RANDOM is the author of the Jazzman Chronicles, the War Chronicle (Crow Dog Press) and Ghost Dance INsurrection. His commentaries have been posted by matrix masters, counterpunch, global research, trinicenter, dissident voice and albion monitor. See www.jackrandom.com.