By George Gregoriou
“Thinking about tomorrow” is a Fleetwood Mac song, the campaign theme
of Clinton in the 1992, “The past” was the status quo, a trouble economy, and 4 more of Bush Sr. The Republicans in the White House got it right this time. They are copying Clinton’s them: they will focus on the “future” for 2004. The past is wars, terrorism, the stock market and the economy is in trouble, unemployment is high, and tempers higher.
Does the White House have a clue on the future? Yes, they will do what they have done in the past. Author Gore Vidal, Al Gore’s cousin, stated that the Bushes are a family of nobodies. Maybe. But the Republicans have a much better graps on power than Democrats. Bush senior won the election in 1988 against Mike Dukakis through dirty tricks, the Boston Harbor and the Willie Horton commercials. Bush Jr stole the election in Florida (and the Presidency) because a cabal of Republicans were determined to seize power.
Is this something new?
In 1968 the Nixon-Kissinger clique advised Thieu in Saigon to reject the peace agreement worked out by the Johnson administration because it meant the election of Hubert Humphrey to the presidency. The terms offered in 1968 and rejected were agreed to by Nixon and Kissinger in 1973. The only difference was 28,000 American soldiers dead and thousands wounded, and hundreds of Vietnamese and Cambodians dead and wounded. Humans are expandable for power. This strategy was repeated in the 1980 election. Through secret negotiations, the Republicans delayed the release of the hostages in Iran until after the election. Reagan became the president. This conspiracy is the Iran-Contra Affair. Political (and social) power is necessary to promote the interests of corporate capitalism.
Will they pull it off in 2004? They got the theme right, its about the future. The present, or past? Can’t think about, and time is running out. Could it be, “like father like son”? The first Bush’s political
career ended in tragedy in 1992. Would Bush Jr.’s be a farce? The first Iraq war raised Bush Sr.’s approval ratings to 88%. The economy destroyed him. Voters love you one minute, they abandon you the next. They are so fickle.
It was different with Clinton. He did everything to stay on top of the events. But the Republicans were after him, with the Whitewater hearings. He handed them what they wanted. After a meandering through one investigation after another and spending $25 million, the Republicans found Monica Lewinski. They almost impeached him, not on economic issues, on the moral issues. The economy saved him. The Republicans went on cashing on Clinton’s sexual escapes. And they have been trying to pin the economic downturn to the last year of the Clinton presidency. This is no longer.
The tax cuts for the rich and the cuts in social services for the needy “republicanized” the economic troubles. The way out? Their weapons of “mass distraction” were raised to another level: militarism, patriotism, and bullying. You either support them and you are a patriot, or you give comfort to the enemy.
The Republicans want to keep the White House for another four years.
They want to control the big spoons. The big corporate media is on their side. Bush has no intellectual qualities. His “straight talk” is cliches, repetitions, poor English, Texas cowboy style. There is nothing like military “victory” to energize these beer quaffers and draft dodgers inside and outside the Washington belt-way. Al Queda and 9/11 raised Bush’s approval ratings to spectacular levels, 80% approval. The invasion of Afghanistan made him appear presidential.
The invasion of Iraq made him appear invincible. Bush just happened to be there, in the White House.
Two military “victories” are offered for 4 more years of Republican rule. The presidential election in November 1904 will be decided by:
(1) the war in Afghanistan;
(2) the war in Iraq; and
(3) the economy. Nothing seem to be working for Bush Jr. The war in Afghanistan is slowly resembling the war against the British in 1840s, the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Its now the war against the US. The casualties are daily, but no body bags on the nightly news. The Pashtuns and Talibans are back in action. The warlords are in charge. The Karzai regime is not in control outside Kabul. Washington, we are told, is winning the war.
The same in Iraq. Its gunpoint democracy. Young men, ages 19, 20, 21, and older dying everyday. A 150,000 American army cannot find the weapons of mass destruction, nor keep law and order. The promise of self-determination of the Iraqi people, well…. The officials in Baghdad are wealthy exiles flown by the US. Bush’s approval ratings drop to just over 50%. If this sound like Vietnam, it is. As Howard Zinn states in “The Progressive” (August 2003), Ngo Dinh Diem was flown into Saigon by the US, Washington stated its intention that Vietnam should govern itself, and most Americans remained ignorant of these things. History repeats itself.
But, its the economy which will make or break the Republican White
House in 11/04. The state of the economy would destroy anyone in the White
House. But the economy, we are told, has been turning around since 2001,
but it is going around in circles or downward.
***George Gregoriou is a Professor, Political Science Department at The William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ.