Maybe what it takes to be even half-way successful in politics now, more than ever, is not only proficiency with the fine art of spin, and aptitude for damage control, but one has to be a bullshit fetishist, as well. Witness the weekly address given at Mile High Coffee, a suburban cafe in Denver, where the president spoke about how peachy the economy is "our growing economy ...has left more money in the hands of families and workers and small business owners." But, what can one expect from a government so far in denial that, less than 10 days ago, the vice president himself had the unmitigated chutzpah to declare our mission in Iraq a success.
Yes, at "Mile High" today, Mr. Bush engaged in his administration's signature mixed message rhetoric when pointing out that employers are cooperating with an economy that has "lost momentum" and, at the same time, arguing that economic growth will be compromised by a Democratic victory at the polls on Election Day. (AP) He spoke of making his infamous "tax relief" plan permanent; you know the plan, the one that provides the biggest tax breaks to those who earn $200,000 a year plus, and leaves the rest of us with nickels and dimes. If one didn't know better, one might ask what Mr. Bush has been smoking, but that would mean implying that the president, in addition to being an "economist," is an evangelist, too.
Leaving the ranch for a moment, and heading to Ca-LEE-forn--ya, one finds Republican rising star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, spouting the same mantra, and leading his Democratic opponent, at last count, by 16 percentage points statewide. In fact, the Governeggor is so far ahead that he's no longer trying to sway voters, in that state, to cast their ballots for him, but is instead focusing on ballot initiatives. One excellent way to resolve the same sex marriage issue, since this president is so fond of the notion of permanence as evidenced by his insistence upon making the USA Patriot Act permanent, as well as his tax cuts, given that the governor of the most populous state in the union and the president of the 3rd most populous nation in the world share the same delusion about robust economic growth, might be to consider theirs the wedding of the season.
Joking aside, the most amazing factor in this surreal equation is that the president's approval rating, with respect to the economy is a staggering 40%, according to a recent Associated Press poll, despite the fact that Ford Motor Company plans to slash one-third of its workforce, newspapers are cutting jobs left and right, housing sales are at a dangerously low level, furniture and retail sales are in the tank, but this president continues to sing that old, but haunting refrain "Happy days are here again," and thinks he can pass this manure on, so folks will go to the polls on Tuesday and invite him and his economic clones like Ah-nold back for another round at demolition derby.
Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean's response to the president's address was that the rich are getting richer on the backs of the rest of us. But, how it is that the masterminds of economic manipulation, and deception have managed to hold the reins for a decade or more, and do so with such efficacy is beyond a mere mortal's powers of comprehension.
Consider this, from the president who doesn't know how to paint, but rule by numbers....
en route today to celebrate his wife's birthday, when asked about Laura's age, the president replied: "I'm not going to tell you her age. But, we were both born in the same year, and I turned 60 this year." (AP) Mr. Bush, and his party, must be doing something right--the fact that nearly half of the American people respond positively to the way he handles the economy is even scarier than the state of the economy itself.
The only thing more frightening is the thought that, try as we might, we still don't believe that, even after a Democratic landslide on Tuesday, we get to shake the distortionists and spin masters completely for at least another generation. There are little Bushes, and Bush-lites, popping up across the nation, like our friend Ah-nold, and virtually guaranteeing the age of the neo-con will see its way to syndication.