Friday, October 08, 2004


The pseudo-populist politics of Bush's brain

Was there any subtext to the Vice Presidential Debate?

A quick warmup for the upcoming debate:

Seeing Dick Cheney debate was interesting. The man looks like someone who was taken straight from the delivery room at birth and delivered to the guest’s chair on "Meet the Press" or one of those other quaint, pre-cable Sunday morning "public affairs" interview shows. "Meet the Press"guests, like Cheney, are always seated; the head held very still, with only the jaw moving up and down, and hand gestures kept to a minimum, as the TV coach instructed; always speaking in a calm, level voice just one or two inflections shy of a monotone, with a profusion of comfortingly mind-numbing policy words.

Despite Cheney’s lies, outrageous stonewalls and false conclusionary denials, and his obnoxious pre-fabricated personal flings at Kerry and Edwards -- all delivered in that same policy-wonk near-monotone -- Cheney delivered a reassuring message to Bush supporters: there is someone standing behind Bush who knows what he is doing.

In reality, Cheney can’t possibly know what he’s doing – just look at Iraq, and recall that as Bush I’s defense secretary, he should have known the quagmire that Iraq would become. But he sounds like he knows what he’s doing. "Don’t worry folks, it’s not just Bush over here at the White House. There’s one of those ‘Meet the Press" talking head guys too!"

I am not one of those people who will try to make you believe Bush is in reality very intelligent. I don’t think he is, but neither is he an idiot: he’s smart enough for GOP purposes, smart enough to understand his role and play it.

What presidential candidate in recent memory does Bush most remind you of? Certainly not his dad, despite the obvious family resemblance. Answer: Ross Perot. Bush and Perot share a similar appeal to voters. It’s what passes for populism in these lean times: a southern accent and a modest intelligence.

Perot only pretended to have a modest intelligence. He was extremely accomplished, unlike Bush, and must have had lots on the ball, but he sounded so stupid, with his shallow folksy homilies posing as ideas. Bush really does seem to have the modest intelligence and, delivered with that twang, people eat it up. They project all kinds of Americana onto it: regular guy, cowboy, one of us.

In a perverse way, Bush is therefore the perfect Republican candidate. He is business power elite by birth and inclination, but is the ideal spokesmodel to deliver the kind of phony populist message that can get ordinary stiffs to vote tax cuts for the rich.

It just shows you what a great country this is. A guy can be born into a wealthy Yankee family with a silver spoon in his mouth, and go on to become supremely... average.

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It pretty much covers Replica related stuff.
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