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Political Animal

We Must Be Stupid

By Brian Morton | Posted 7/28/2004

Somebody buy me a helmet.

I must be too stupid to be able to get out of bed in the morning without whacking my skull on the nightstand, because there certainly seems to be a conspiracy to try and tell me about things so obvious that they’re right in front of my face. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney keep insisting, day after day and month after month, that there was some sort of link between Iraq and al-Qaida, or Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, even though we know that Osama bin Laden didn’t care for Saddam and his secularist regime, and we’ve seen The 9/11 Commission Report, which says that there’s no link between the two.

We can all see this clearly, but they keep saying it.

Last Friday night, at 6 p.m., the Associated Press ran a story saying that President Bush’s microfilmed military-pay records from late 1972, which were supposedly destroyed, suddenly turned up. And we hear about it on a Friday night, the day after the Sept. 11 report was released and the weekend before the news cycle on the following Monday morning would be dedicated to the Democratic National Convention.

The Pentagon and the White House, which have had three separate chances to bring out all of those Bush records (after continuing to claim that we’ve seen them all), keep coming up with more supposedly lost records, but only after relentless scrutiny, several Freedom of Information Act requests, and a lawsuit by the AP. To this date, according to a July 23 Reuters story, the administration has “offered no new evidence to dispel charges by Democrats that he was absent without leave.”

So we are pretty darn sure that Bush, between May 1972 and October 1973 when he was supposed to be serving in the National Guard during the Vietnam War, went to Alabama to work on a political campaign and never served a lick of time like he was supposed to. And got away with it.

But White House spokesmen like Trent Duffy continue to mechanically repeat that military records—quite likely while holding up those documents next to their heads for the cameras—“show the president served in the military and completed his service, which is why he received an honorable discharge.”

They say it over and over, so we must be hard of hearing. Or stupid.

I wake up every morning and look in the mirror and see that I’m a black male. And I think that Republicans must think I’m stupid. Like those Florida Republicans in 2000 who spent loads of time and effort purging supposed felons from the voter rolls, effectively disenfranchising thousands of black people, many of whom weren’t felons at all. After the errors were revealed (long after Bush squeaked by to win the state by only 537 votes), the state decided this election would be different, and submitted a new “cleaner” list.

This list of felons who won’t be allowed to vote, according to a July 23 Tampa Tribune report, has 47,763 names on it and nearly three times as many registered Democrats as Republicans. Almost half the list consists of minorities—but in the heavily Latino state of Florida, only 61 Latinos are on the list. More than 22,000 blacks but only 61 Latinos—and this is in Florida, where the local dialect for “Yo, man!” is “Oye!

We’re supposed to believe this. We must be total idiots.

And once again, Republicans—even ones in the media, like the supposedly impartial Juan Williams, who plays a “correspondent” for National Public Radio and Fox News Channel—continue to push the idea that black Americans can and should vote for Bush because of his support for vouchers and because he’s named Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell to important positions in his administration. Of course, we all know where Powell’s credibility is now, more than a year after his Feb. 5, 2003, address to the U.N. Security Council on Iraq and its supposed weapons of mass destruction. And we know about Rice’s credibility, too: She was forced in April to reveal to the 9/11 Commission the title of a Aug. 6, 2001, President’s Daily Briefing report: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.”

And we know that any time conservatives push for vouchers it means that the cushy freeloaders who got the best part of Bush’s tax cuts want discount coupons for their kids’ private schools while cash-strapped public school districts get the shaft.

But that’s OK, because we don’t see that, because we must be stupid.

Congress can’t pass a budget, but it can blow valuable legislative time arguing about a Constitutional amendment that would enshrine bigotry into the nation’s founding document. Republicans can’t agree, even among themselves, on another middle-class tax cut because they don’t want anything that Democrats might agree to before an election season. And there’s more talk of flag-burning amendments and other cultural hot-button issues, but soldiers are still dying at a rate of two per day in a nation we invaded under false pretenses. And now it turns out that it was Iran that had a relationship with al-Qaida—but we ignored it.

But we’ll just pay no attention to any of this, because it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that George W. Bush is a strong, trustworthy, decisive, believable president. After all, they keep telling us so. And that’s enough, right?

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Political Animal archives

More from Brian Morton

The Fix (8/4/2010)

Police State (7/7/2010)

Funny Business (6/9/2010)

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