Father Diamond is spinning in his grave
Expanded from the Sunday, 8-15-2004, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 8-20-2004 Comstock Chronicle
"Publicity never hurt anyone who didnt hurt it first."
Legendary orchestra leader Paul Whiteman (1890-1967)
The President of the United States certainly resembles that remark. Public relations professionals and media mavens, myself included, increasingly marvel at the cold-blooded efficiency of the White House PR machine.
For the third election in a row, it has turned a bonafide war hero into a commie-pinko-wimp traitor. Dubya started in South Carolina in 2000, calling into question Sen. John McCains record in Vietnam. He added rumors that that the Arizona GOP senator was liberal, gay and had a black baby. The latter truthfully applied to Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S. Carolina, but the smear stuck. (McCain and his wife actually adopted an orphan from Bangladesh, so I guess thats black enough for a racist southern state.)
Within a few weeks, McCain was making speeches screaming "Im a conservative Republican!" to anyone who would listen. Too late. Bush had made McCain the issue and went on to win the Republican nomination and steal the presidency.
In 2002, southern racism was again marshaled to victory as Sen. Max Cleland, D-Georgia, was smeared as a bin Laden sympathizer in an election centered on continued state use of the confederate flag. Cleland, a former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, lost three limbs in Vietnam.
I need not reiterate the current trashing of the documented war heroism Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
Bush has once again succeeded in making Kerry the issue rather than the presidents own desertion while under obligation to serve in the Alabama National Guard.
Dubya was reared to love the glory of combat. "It doesn't take much to predict that George II will soon risk American lives in some foolish war," I wrote in this column on Jan. 21, 2001.
The Bushes are nothing if not adept at baiting their opposition into one-upmanship games of macho tough talk.
Kerry took the bait last week and may have conceded the election as a result. His Accidency the President goaded Kerry into answering "if you knew then what we know now, would you have voted to go to war?" (paraphrased)
Astoundingly, Kerry agreed, then added disclaimers that his vote was only to empower the president to go to war after all else had failed. Kerry went in the tank (omigawd an inadvertent Dukakis allusion) with the Grand Canyon as a backdrop. He could not have dug himself a bigger hole.
THE MAHATMA COMES TO TOWN
Debate over controversial speaker welcome
Reno Gazette-Journal Editorial
Mike on the road with Crackers the Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken.
Kerry should have listened to comedian Bill Maher: Americans don't do nuance.
As my high school forensics teacher once advised, when your opposition agrees with you, you've won the debate. The very British Father Diamond would today award the war issue and thus the contest to Bush.
The anti-war faction now has nowhere to go but self-destructive maverick Ralph Nader or perhaps Libertarian Michael Badnarik. Liberals can only hope that Badnarik, who will be on the ballot in many states, shaves from Bush some of the disaffected Perot/Buchanan/Goldwater Republicans as a counterweight to any siphoning Nader causes from the left.
His own gaffes, made worse by the Bush spinmeisters and combined with blacks and Jews again being prevented from voting in Florida, may be too much for Kerry to overcome.
Last Thursday, the nations most accurate news source, Comedy Centrals "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," featured an interview with Bryan Keefer of spinsanity.com. Hes one of the authors of a new book entitled "All the Presidents Spin." (Excerpt linked below.)
Keefer admitted to grudging admiration for the efficiency of the White House propaganda machine, an upgraded combination of Michael Deavers Reagan-era visual staging and James Carvilles Clinton war room. Other fans are checking in.
The cover story of the new September edition of Harpers Magazine is by editor Lewis Lapham, the most elegant and artful political writer in the country.
In "Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History," Lapham chronicles the billions spent over the past four decades by wealthy right wing interests.
These issues are nothing new to the few of us who have been watching. A decade ago, I noted the research of the late University of New South Wales Prof. Alex Carey. (The 1994 Labor Day Barbwire, "People vs. Corporate Con Job," will shortly be uploaded and linked to this column.)
Using the U.S. as his example, Carey warned his fellow Aussies that steps needed to be taken so that the Australian government would not be perverted by corporate interests posing as populist reformers.
John Kerry today is merely the latest victim.
Perhaps John McCain and Alan Ginsberg offer the only remedy: HOWL. Loudly, clearly and often.
PR SMARTS, PART DEUX. There is no sharper promoter in the Silver State than "Nevada Newsmakers" host and producer Sam Shad. For the next two weeks, the Olympics will bump his show off the NBC affiliates in Reno and Las Vegas. (It will remain available to Charter cable subscribers on Channel 12 in Washoe-Carson-Douglas, Monday through Thursday at 9:30 p.m. and on White Sheets Radio KKKOH from 9:00-11:00 a.m. Sundays.)
Knowing that he needed to publicize the shows continuing with new material (some hot candidate debates are scheduled this week), Shad came up with an ingenious way to stay in the news flow. He got a hurricane named for his wife, Bonnie.
And it hit Jebya in Florida!
If Bush hires Shad for his media juggernaut, Kerrys toast.
Michael Moore, call your office.
Be well. Raise hell.
ORDER "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
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Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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