The Politics of the Repressed

The imperial managers make the policies and the bankers and CEOs ensure their stockholders that the Administration protects and enhances their worldly proprietary interests. Defense contracts, oil revenues and corporate perks continue to flow their way ­ especially those tied to Halliburton, Bechtel or Lockheed Martin. Indeed, corporate bosses pay hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions for the political side of these “interests.” These moguls seem uninterested in how the Bush team disregards traditional rules.

For example, the White House issued instant press credentials to Jeff Gannon, a.k.a. James Guckert. For two years, this ultra right “reporter” for Republican Party Web sites (owned by a Texas Republican) got called on regularly by White House press aide Scott McClellan and by Bush. Gannon, predictably, asked loaded, pro-Administration questions.

“While the Democrats are challenging the Ohio results on Capitol Hill, Democrats in Washington State have disqualified any number of military votes in order to win that gubernatorial election there. Considering that American soldiers are in Iraq fighting to give those people there the right to vote, the right to free and fair elections, don’t you think we owe it to them to make sure their votes are counted back home?”

The Secret Service knew about Guckert’s homo-erotic Web sites where Gannon appears as “military, muscular, masculine and discrete.” A web designer admitted he had “designed a gay escort site for Gannon and had posted naked pictures of Gannon at the client’s request.” (Washington Post, Feb 13).

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd, however, protested that “I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem [he owed $20,700 in income taxes] and Internet pictures where he posed like the “Barberini Faun” is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?”

“No one called me back,” Dowd complained after repeatedly seeking renewal of her credentials. “After a new Secret Service background check that would last several months,” she got them (NY Times Feb 14).

As Dowd cleared the new “security hurdles,” the shadier-than-thou Guckert slipped through the “increased security” cracks and received his daily press card. A former federal policeman assured me that “only a direct order from very high up could have gotten him that close to the President.”

A few telephone calls to insider Washington sources led me to infer that the Gannon-Guckert affair was the work of Bush’s uber-strategist, Karl Rove, whom I think of as the Roy Cohn of the 21st Century.

In the early 1950s, Cohn became Joe McCarthy’s attack dog. He helped “Joe” grab headlines and throw fear. Within months after McCarthy’s bogus “revelation” about the number of Reds in the State Department (he changed the number several times), the junior Senator from Wisconsin and Cohn, his human pit bull, learned that fighting dirty got results. The media converted the silliest scare charges into urgent headlines: “Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity,” intoned McCarthy in a 1950 speech. “I have in my hand fifty-seven cases of individuals who would appear to be either card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy.”

Such ranting got McCarthy’s picture on the Time magazine cover. His voice became familiar on radio news. As McCarthy’s chief counsel, Cohn used implication to smear his liberal-pink targets. To taint the Voice of America’s French desk chief, Cohn stated that communists don’t believe in the family and advocate collectivism. Since the VOA’s French desk chief “tried to recruit an employee for a collective [he] must be a communist.” Or, “Communists are atheists; the head of the VOA’s religious programming doesn’t believe in God therefore, that VOA employee must be a communist.”

Cohn used God and country as weapons, thrusting on the accused the burden of “proving they did believe in God and were patriotic” (David F. Krugler, “God, Monogamy, and the Newsroom? The 1953 McCarthy Investigation of the Voice of America,” Organization of American Historians April 2-5, 1998, Indianapolis, Indiana).

In that tradition of bending logic and rules, Rove apparently also utilized the available Guckert to promote Bush’s causes and attack his enemies. Bloggers found that Guckert leaked the “Shock and Awe” story hours before Bush announced his March 2003 invasion of Iraq. John Aravosis of said “Guckert delivered other “scoops” to “friendly” news outlets, [like Fox’s Sean Hannity] including details concerning the Dan Rather/CBS memo scandal” (Daily Kos, Feb 18, 2005).

The urgent tone given to the Rather scandal, along with the ever “breaking news” about Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Robert Blake, creates public distraction. Far more Americans know the gory details about life in Neverland than about how neo conservative policy geeks like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and former Defense Advisory Chair Richard Perle (whose positions seems close if not identical to that of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) have begun to restructure the Middle East. They share this focus with the fundamentalist preachers like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who also support aggressive Israeli policies, while simultaneously declaring that “God does not hear the prayer of Jews.”

This “moral values” crowd also demands adherence to abstinence on sex and substances. They seek to blanket the country in religious symbols and punish media that traumatized a hundred million Americans by showing a woman’s breast at last year’s Superbowl. They seem unconcerned over less spiritual issues, like millions of yearly deaths from preventable diseases.

Some public spokespeople for fundamentalist morality have demonstrated a farcical distance between preaching and doing: radio loudmouth Rush Limbaugh said that “if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.” Until he got arrested for illegally buying and using prescription drugs (oxycontin or rural heroine)! Then, he asked for understanding. Ah, the pain!

Should we also sympathize with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, author of children’s morality books? According to a legal complain, O’Reilly phoned an associate producer and suggested she “purchase a vibrator and name it, and that he had one `shaped like a cock with a little battery in it.’ It became clear that Defendant was masturbating as he spoke.”

Newt Gingrich, the rhetorical champion of marriage and family values, left his wife as she lay dying of cancer ­ to marry a younger and healthier bride, whom he later divorced.

It doesn’t matter what you do, only how aggressive you sound. In late February, in Roy Cohn’s angry tradition, Bush backer Sam Johnson (R-TX) told a church congregation that Bush should nuke Syria because it was evil. The flock applauded.

Similarly, Cohn and McCarthy often linked liberal targets to homosexual illusions or used sexual secrets to blackmail potential informants.

Cohn’s homosexuality was an open secret. Although he drank at gay bars and often left with gay men, Cohn opposed New York City’s gay rights law and tried to ban homosexuals from becoming school teachers. He died of AIDS in 1986, still in adamant denial.

Cohn’s earlier counterparts, Nazi Party members in the late 1920s and early 30s, projected sexual repression into daily politics. Emerging from the embrace of male lovers, some Nazis would search for non-Nazi homosexuals to kill. Indeed, until 1934, when Hitler turned on and killed his homosexual friend Ernst Roehm and his followers, some of the most brutal “repressors” (Storm Troopers) were homosexuals.

Psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich suggested that political repression ties into sexual repression (homo or hetero). Does this provide insight into Kinky O’Reilly or fundamentalist preachers, like Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert, who seemed addicted to hookers? They preach sexual and political repression, but only practice the former.

The United States, a far cry from pre-Hitler Germany, nevertheless contains an enormous group of very repressed “fundamentalists” who see non-marital sex ­ and even some of the married kind — as serious sin. For enjoying sex, Clinton became a hated scoundrel; mass murderers Rumsfeld, Cheney and Kissinger, role models.

The Patriot Act has not produced organized psychic terror for the society ­ unless you’re Muslim. But repressed individuals did organize a successful election campaign against gay marriage while Bush pushed aggressive policies into the faces of the “weak” Democrats. Like their guru, Roy Cohn, the Roveites punish “betrayers” like ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson who refuted the Iraq-buying-uranium-in-Niger myth. Some high official leaked the name of Wilson’s covert CIA wife to Robert Novak who “outed” her. This bitchy mentality fits well with the naked imperial ideology espoused by neo cons and Soldiers of God.

Instead of standing up to this nastiness and unifying against the invasion of Iraq, some Democrats embrace Bush’s Iraq policy and fight him over social security. It’s time to go back to the streets!




SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.