Baggage, Fighting Fascism And Donald Rumsfeld
Scene: An airport where some passengers are about to embark on a trip when they’re confronted by a salesman.
A salesman from the The Decider Company holds up a big, plain bag. “Trust us. This’ll be great for your trip! It an amazing product that will help you complete your difficult trip in a wise, learned, and secure manner! It guarantees your safety — you your family’s lives. Trust us.”
Some Republicans look at it and say: “Yes, you can trust this company! We have stock in this and believe everything they say so we have no axe to grind when we tell you that they know what they’re talking about. Why, just look at their great track record…”
Some Democrats say: “Don’t believe a word he says! He is not considered a successful manager of his division. We have stock in another company that also offers Reid instruments. The Decider’s promises and predictions about its products in the past haven’t held up and they later then pretend they never made promises or predictions at all. Don’t trust them trust us.”
Some of the other passengers who aren’t Republicans and Democrats look…and what do they see?
A salesman with baggage — just, lots of baggage. Baggage being pitched by someone who is not considered by people who do not already have a vested interest in his company to be highly successful.
The salesman named Donald Rumsfeld then tells the crowd: “Those who don’t use our bags are putting everyone’s lives at risk on the flight! They don’t understand the importance and success of our product to their very existence. If they don’t use our product they are appeasing those who would bring you and your family harm.”
And there you have it. As America celebrates Labor Day — a holiday where national unity is traditionally coupled with the official start of political campaigns marked by Americans debating freely without being accused of being traitors — the country has again witnessed the spectacle of an administration that seemingly does not have the word “unity” in its political vocabulary.
The attempt to demonize Americans who differ as basically fellow travelers of terrorists and modern day enablers of fascism came from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld and the Bush administration seemingly believe “unity” signifies weakness, something that only empty-headed, naive political wannabees talk about — a concept reflecting a misunderstanding about how politics and retaining power really works (you must demonize and divide to retain power).
Even a bell pepper at Stop & Shop in Woodbridge, Connecticut could read the newspapers, watch TV or (better yet) read a weblog and realize that the administration has quickly shifted its political mantra as we’re heading into an election season.
The “T” word (for traitors) isn’t being used. Nor is the “E” word (for enablers). But the implication is quite clear:
Those who dare question the administration’s war in Iraq — not just going into it but the way it is being administered and whether there is a long range goal and end-game plan — are basically being painted as being like those who were dumb and/or weak enough not to stand up to Adolph Hitler, and to pre-World War II fascism in general.
Rumsfeld faced a firestorm of criticism from Democrats (who are reportedly thinking of a no confidence vote in Congress) so he has now backtracked. And guess who he blames? The news media:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld reached out to Democrats late Friday, opening up the door for them to retract their stinging indictment of him as Pentagon chief.
In a letter to Congress’s top Democrats, Rumsfeld said recent remarks he made during a speech in Salt Lake City were misrepresented by the media, including by the Associated Press. Rumsfeld said he was “concerned” by the reaction of Democrats, many of whom called for his resignation and said he was treading on dangerous territory.
“I know you agree that with America under attack and U.S. troops in the field, our national debate on this should be constructive,” Rumsfeld wrote Friday.
During his speech before thousands of veterans Tuesday, Rumsfeld said the world faces “a new type of fascism” and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement. He alluded to critics of the Bush administration’s war policies in terms associated with the failure to stop Nazism in the 1930s, “a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the Western democracies.”
Without explicitly citing Bush critics at home or abroad, he said “it is apparent that many have still not learned history’s lessons.” Aides to Rumsfeld said later he was not accusing the administration’s critics of trying to appease the terrorists but was cautioning against a repeat of errors made in earlier eras.
“Thought and careful preparation went into what I said,” Rumsfeld wrote in the letter. “It is absolutely essential for us to look at lessons of history in this critical moment in the war on terror.” I was honored by the reception my statements received from our veterans.
The Democrats remain outraged and unplacated — as they…and ALL Americans who don’t march lockstep to attempts to demonize other Americans who engage in spirited questioning RIGHTFULLY should.
Rumsfeld’s implication was quite clear, particularly if you stack this against earlier comments by White House political guru Karl Rove, Majority Leader Bill Frist, the head of the RNC, Vice President Dick Cheney and others. There is a consistency and cohesiveness in what is being said (and echoed repeatedly on conservative talk shows).
The not-so-subtle attempt has begun to paint Democrats as potential appeasers of terrorism that could kill Americans on American soil. It is being done a way without anyone coming out and bluntly saying it. So the implication is made in varying forms and strengths. Repeatedly. And we’ll hear it lots more of it this season.
How is all of this latest attempt at polarization from an administration that makes Richard Nixon’s divisive administration now look like a 1960s love-in playing with many Americans?
If you visit the Unity08 website you can see it already. People are disgusted with frenzied partisan battles that jettison national unity – a quality ESSENTIAL in any successful battle against terrorism. President George Bush, who ran in 2000 as “a uniter not a divider,” had an unprecedented opportunity to nurture unity in the immediate aftermath of 911. Instead, he and his political operatives seemingly interpreted the Democrats’ cooperation as weakness and began to use terrorism policy and national security as a political bludgeon.
There are some voters like yours truly who have been all over the place politically and been in both parties. We now don’t belong to any party and will vote for a candidate based on ideas an policies — not just because they have a D or an R in front of them. And we vote every single time. In every single election. And, noooo, because we are independents doesn’t mean we aren’t passionate about issues.
We went along with the administration on the war, giving them the benefit of the doubt, but have since seen them discard a line, earlier justification or argument and when it turned out to be false or didn’t work, then offered new one and then insist like what was said before or implied wasn’t said or implied. Problems: (a) a lot of the earlier comments are immortalized on video (b) we’re not bell peppers at Stop & Shop.
Many of us have do not agree with those who seek an immediate pullout but we have serious questions about the way the war is being run and what kind of plan there is in place to achieve goals and eventually leave. The administration gives us few if any answers — except more slash and burn demonization of those who ask questions and don’t pledge total loyalty to place their trust in The People In Charge.
When we see those on the left or right who have questions about policies…and us also us, by implication …being told that if we were adults in the 1940s would have let Hitler have his way, we then begin to write off the words of those whose mouths seemingly cannot debate issues without sneeringly discrediting those in a democracy who have every RIGHT to DEMAND answers or changes in policies.
Accusing opponents of being isolationists (even if they’re not) or being soft on fascism (even if they’re not) has worked before. And so it’s being used as an election year tool again — to once again divide the United States in order to arouse passions of hate and concern in the GOP base so the base will go to the polls in droves 2006 to checkmate the portrayal and characterization of the administration’s critics. The portrayal offered by the administration.
But this year many independents, independent-minded Democrats and even independent-minded Repubicans may think: Divided government is what’s needed. And maybe votes cast in 2006 should be towards that end.
Donald Rumsfeld has been in high White House posts for many years in various administrations. He KNOWS how to put a sentence together.
He KNOWS what he said and what he meant. The political technique of taking some of it back later and letting the original allegation hang out there is older than Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones (well, perhaps not that old..).
Many of us independent voters — even many of us who supported the war — know what Rumsfeld really meant.
And. come November, many of us independent voters will likely vote accordingly.