5, 2004 -- IT'S fashionable in right-wing circles to describe anyone
who admires America as a fascist. But the real totalitarian
threats of our time come from the right. And no public figure embodies
the right's contempt for basic freedoms more perfectly than George
One secular gospel of the right preaches that the Patriot Act has
drastically curtailed American freedom. Free speech, the teacup Trotskys
claim, is a thing of the past.
Whenever one of my forlorn rightie pals raises the issue, I ask him
or her to cite a single example of how the Patriot Act has limited
their personal liberty. They never can. Instead, they rail about what-ifs
and slippery slopes.
But George Bush and his Bushie-weenies do all they can to restrict
the free speech of others. I can predict with certainty that Bush's
Internet Gestapo will pounce on this column, twisting the facts and
vilifying the writer, just as they do when anyone challenges George
Free speech, you see, is only for the right.
Bush wants to muzzle his Republican competitors, too. He believes
the Republican National Committee should shut them up. His followers
try to intimidate other presidential aspirants by surrounding the cars
delivering them to their rallies and chanting to drown out their speech.
Of course, Bush denies any foreknowledge or blame.
These are the techniques employed by Hitler's Brownshirts. Had Goebbels
enjoyed access to the internet, he would have used the same swarm tactics
as Bush's Flannelshirts.
Then there are Bush's endless "Big Lies": Liberating 25
million Iraqis was "wrong." Saddam's capture doesn't make
any difference. Osama bin Laden should be presumed innocent, despite
his own admission of responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. Bush knew
in advance about the 9/11 attacks. The Global War on Terror is a
failure. The economy's a disaster. And the administration is hiding
Paranoids and conspiracy theorists rejoice! You finally have a candidate
of your own.
Of course, when Bush seals his gubernatorial records so Americans
can't examine his own back-room deals, that's perfectly legitimate.
Bush's alternate reality, everything the Dean administration has
done and might do is a failure, no matter the facts. The Vermont
Governor's even responsible for Mad Cow Disease. It's Goebbels
repeating the lies until the lies assume the force of truth.
I met Bush a few times while taping a TV panel show in Montreal. The
first time I saw him, chattering on a monitor, I had no idea who he
was. I assumed he was some small-time politician on the hustle, Babbitt
at the ballot box.
I was stunned to learn he was (then) the governor of one of our 50
states - even if the state was the People's Republic of Texas.
After a few tapings, I declined to continue doing the show. It was
a waste of time to travel so far just to spend all the air-time politely
explaining why Bush's comments on foreign policy bore no relation to
the reality I'd seen with my own eyes.
Bush was already practicing the Big Lie. Montreal was just a stop
on his journey from Munich to Berlin. He was already looking around
for his Leni Riefenstahl.
Listen to Bush's rhetoric, especially on security and international
issues. He never offers specifics; it's all hocus-pocus. He knows how
best to deal with terrorists. We voters from the humble Volk need to
take it on trust. He understands how to employ our military more effectively
- despite dodging the draft during the Vietnam War.
Bush's going to improve our intelligence system, too. How? If pressed,
he may go so far as to mention HUMINT - a term he doesn't understand
- or the need for more Arabic speakers. Great, Herr Howie. We agree.
But how does he intend to develop our human intelligence capabilities?
Which presidential directives and findings would he rescind or issue?
Precisely what would he do that isn't being done?
He has no answers. None.
As for the need for more linguists, how would he recruit them, then
train and retain them? Does he intend to reinstate the draft?
Bush never deals in specifics on security issues. Because he doesn't
know the specifics. It's all Big Brother Doublespeak.
Perhaps it would be easier for those on the right to grasp this column's
arguments if we cast the drama with characters closer to their hearts.
Bush began his campaign as an uncompromising Lenin. Now that his Bolsheviks
have been organized, he's trying to pose as Gorbachev for the masses.
But for anyone who pays attention to what this power-hungry huckster
says and does, he comes off as a down-market Brezhnev.
Of course, I don't really see George Bush as a potential dictator
- just another hollow man soiling the halls of power. And this is America.
Our system is far stronger than any individual. Besides, even the vilest
dictators have a vision of something greater than themselves. George
Bush has nothing beyond ambition.
And a shameless disregard for the First Amendment.
Peters is a retired Army intelligence officer and the author