All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day
Defense Secretary and neocon wildman Donny Rumsfeld, a man whose bleary, boozy appearance always inspires the endearing nickname "Rummy," recently went into a hysterical rant comparing his critics to "Nazi appeasers" who are interfering in his pursuit of "a new type of fascism." Sam Kinison must be laughing, somewhere.
These days, any attempt to report an administration speech comes off as rightwing propaganda, these characters are so far off the political charts that they are coming around the other side and beginning to sound leftist. My source of information, a Los Angeles Times article (by Julian E. Barnes), was so badly written that I thought, for a few seconds, that Rummy had grown a conscience and swapped sides. The Times, a paper that once was so disregarded that it was barely considered to be more than a rightwing real estate promotion rag, has returned to its roots. Barnes works his ass off to make Rummy sound almost sentient, while reducing contradicting opinions to background noise. Still, even with careful editing, Rummy is pretty funny.
Let's face it, anyone who knows squat about history has long since connected the dots between the 1936 Nazi political takeover of Germany and the 2000 neocon overthrow of the United States democracy. But, no, when he presented his newest, most hilarious argument, Rummy was hiding in that great bastion of nationalism, the American Legion convention. An audience sense of history was noticeably missing.1 Rummy went into a semi-literate rant about the people who were interfering with his dissection of the Constitution and his illegal Iraq oil takeover attempt. There weren't nearly as many laughs as Rummy would have received if he'd have picked a more conscious crowd, like a college campus. I expect he was disappointed. He went to a lot of work to assemble the best neocon comedic writers and this was some of their best work. Hardly anyone laughed, assuming Barnes and the Times accurately reported the event.
I laughed a lot, when I read the Times' article. I particularly loved this convoluted and typically-Rummy argument, "If we abandon the Iraqi people before their government is strong enough to secure the country, they we will show reformers across the region that America cannot be trusted to keep its word. We will embolden extremist enemies of moderation and of democratic reform." Has anyone ever seen any sign that Rummy supports moderation or democratic reform in this country? Did I miss Rummy's anguished performance when the 2000 Supreme Court disrespected more than 50 million votes, the majority, and politically "appointed" Rummy's boss; "Queen of America?" This is sarcasm, right? It has to be. When was the last time one of the monosyllabic neocons used the word "embolden?" Aren't conservatives terrified of people who are emboldened? When has a reformer ever looked to this administration for any inspiration? Reformers all over South America are looking to the north in fear, especially those who have oil resources. But no political leader with an ounce of good toward his citizens will would ever expect assistance from the Bush Presidency. We don't even expect assistance from our government. Our elections are so fraudulent that "trust" is a word that has vanished from the American political vocabulary. And does abandoning "the Iraqi people" mean that we'd quit shooting them for entertainment? There is so much irony in this pair of sentences that I think Mark Twain would be intimidated by the comedic genius of Rummy's writers.
Rummy tipped his whiskey jar and continued with, "I recount that history because, once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism." Really? The Bushies are doing something new? What did I miss? It doesn't look new to me. 2000 was the same kind of turn-around year for the United States that Germany suffered in 1932 when the Nazi Party wrestled power from the Weimar Democracy in the heat of the world economic depression. Hitler's 1932 "victory" was no less legitimate or more creative than was George Bush's in 2000. The United States has made a slow turn in the exact Nazi German direction that led to WWII. But "new?" I see nothing new in fascism. Fascism is an economic system that attempts to reach corporate and elite goals through force, repression, and fear. Sounds like the Republican Party platform to me. The fact that working class folks keep voting Republican is the funniest, saddest proof that humans are a sincerely, chronically, pathologically stupid species. But that's nothing new, either.
He had to have had them rolling in the isles, but Rummy kept delivering punch lines. Like this one, "Can we truly afford to believe that, somehow or someway, vicious extremists could be appeased?" No, we can't, but we will. I have never believed that the brown shirt extremists who forced the end of the 2000 presidential election recount with violence and a politically corrupt Supreme Court overthrow of democracy can be appeased. I thought they should have been arrested, tried, and executed for treason; including the five members of the Court. Honestly, I can't imagine this country returning to democratic principles without a civil war and I have very little faith that the docile citizens of this country care enough about freedom, liberty, or democracy to go to war for it. Still, appeasing the Bush Administration is a moral crime and I agree with Rummy, we should all be opposing them with every ounce of our existence. That was what he was talking about, wasn't it? Maybe he was still stuffing his contradictions into a paradox burrito. Irony is so subtle. Of course, when Rummy tosses off a phrase like "moral confusion," we know there's a punch line here somewhere. Morals? Republicans? Where would the two ever meet?
One after another, Rummy kept the one-liners coming, "Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America--not the enemy--is the real source of the world's troubles?" I read that and thought, "No, we can't, but I don't remember ever leaving that view." Reagan really kicked it up a notch or ten, but since the end of WWII, the United States has destabilized nations and continents, continuously, for the profit of a few rich corporate criminals. I don't know how anyone with the slightest knowledge of world history can avoid pointing, like a compass swinging north, a finger at the United States when a discussion of "the world's troubles" begins. Still, at some clinging basic core, America (including Canada and Mexico and South America) are the hope of much of the world. Bush and Rummy, however, do not represent America (including the United States) at its best. They are us at our worst, our most destabilizing, our most class-controlled, our most short-sighted, and our most violently greedy. That's not that funny, now that I reconsider it. I guess I can see why the reporter didn't mention laughs at this point in Rummy's speech.
As background noise, Rummy (and Condi and Georgie and the rest) keep talking about "victory" in Iraq. This has to be a joke, right? How can an occupying force ever hope for "victory" in an invasion? Historically, the best imperialist occupation forces have ever managed is "balance." Balance usually means the occupier gains as much, in assets or trade, as they lose in moral character, national focus, and actual lives sacrificed so that the ruling class, who does gain from the occupation, can make their profits. That's "victory" when it comes to invading another nation in the hopes of controlling their resources. Oil, in this case and in case you've forgotten why we're in Iraq. With this history lesson in mind, I can't help but wonder when the Native Americans will reclaim this country. "Winning" isn't even an option, but it's pretty funny to think that anyone can take this argument seriously.
Democrats are making a mistake in calling for Rummy's resignation. Rummy isn't the problem, he's a symptom. He's distracting entertainment. When you are attempting to cure a disease, the last thing you want to do is hide symptoms unless the symptoms are all the damage the disease can cause. This disease is the entire conservative movement. Their irrational, superstitious view of the world is colored by rosy prism-shaped glasses that obscure anything resembling reality. They can overthrow the Constitution and the democracy and call it "national security." They can hand over the nation's assets to a tiny, inbred group of wealthy corporate traitors and call it "capitalism." They can destroy the nation's public education system and imagine, somehow, that unlimited immigration of unskilled, uneducated menial laborers and superstition-based charter schools will make up for the national brain trust that has been squandered during the last two decades.
I say let Rummy stand up and say what's on his little booze-soaked, hallucination-blurred mind. Let's ask him what he thinks, on every opportunity and on every subject, and be sure the cameras are rolling. For as little as Rummy seems to comprehend, he's nearly infinitely more conscious than his boss and, if he's the best Bush can offer up, we should be considering that very carefully. Of course, this is all part of Carl Rove's slavish devotion to maintaining Machiavelli's illusion of the "Prince." The goal is to make the Prince sound reasonable, a tough task for Bush, while his representatives act as vicious attack dogs chasing away opponents. The act is growing old and predictable. Maybe Machiavellian government has exceeded it's comedic limits? Maybe Rove is exceeding his abilities in trying to work both Rummy and Bush at the same time: all those hours with both hands up a pair of puppet's butts is probably tiring.
Rummy gives it his best, though. My favorite, and last, Rummy quote is ". . . but some seem not to have learned history's lessons." Exactly what I said in 2003 when I compared the administration's rush to invade and occupy Iraq, except that I was comparing Iraq to Vietnam. Using Rummy's Nazi lesson, I think it's clear how little this country learned from the "Great War" and the political and economic events that caused it.
That's not funny.
1On Labor Day Weekend, let's not forget that the American Legion and the state militias (the National Guard) first saw significant use in modern times as strike-breaking goons. Celebrated in Woody Guthrie's "You Can't Scare Me I'm Working for the Union" and other famous lore, these guys hide behind nationalism while performing the menial labor for their corporate Republican owners. Sad, but a nasty piece of American history. Some things never change, some barely change.