Brand This

Written by Matt Taibbi on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

“Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. I would say to John, ‘Let me put it to you this way.
The Lord Almighty, or Allah, whoever, if he came to every kitchen table in America and said, “Look,
I have a Faustian bargain for you, you choose. I will guarantee to you that I will end all terror threats
against the United States within the year, but in return for that there will be no help for education,
no help for Social Security, no help for health care.” What do you do?’ My answer is that seventy-five
per cent of the American people would buy that bargain.”

Joe Biden, in The New Yorker, on what he would say to
John Kerry

“Look, the answer is, we have to do an unbranding. We have to brand
more effectively. It’s marketing.”

Kerry, in the same piece, on the Democrats’ need to sell themselves
as tough

Around the same time Joe Biden was selling
New Yorker reporter Jeffrey Goldberg on the idea that the only hope for the Democratic Party
was to abandon all social programming and invade the planet, some interesting polls were taken
in the three countries most involved in the Iraq invasion.

In the United States, a Washington Post/ABC News poll released
on March 16 showed that 53 percent of Americans think the Iraq war was not worth fighting, 57 percent
disagreed with President Bush’s handling of the Iraq war, and 70 percent said that the number of
U.S. casualties incurred in the war was unacceptable.

In Australia, one of the U.S.’s last stalwart partners on the war, the
government’s approval rating fell below 50 percent for the first time in ages, with a new poll showing
Labor with a 52-48 advantage. Prime Minister John Howard conceded that the drop was due to public
dissatisfaction with the continued presence of Australian troops in Iraq.

In Britain, meanwhile, a spate of polls was conducted in anticipation
of May 5 elections. Because of the huge majority owned by Tony Blair’s Labour Party in the House of
Commons408 seats to 162 for the Conservative partyBlair is almost certain to be
reelected to a third term. But the Labour advantage is dropping fast, losing about a percentage
point a month in recent months, with Iraq the main cause. In February, the Labour advantage was 38
percent to 32, with the remainder going to the Liberal-Democrat party. This month, it’s 37-34.
Conventional wisdom anticipates that Labour will retain its advantage but lose about two-dozen
seats. Blair’s personal approval rating, meanwhile, has plummeted to around 35 percent, mirroring
a slide enjoyed recently by George Bush, who has been in the mid 40s since the New Year.

Blair is also facing a major scandal over Iraq that is inspiring demonstrations
all over the country. In a documentary aired on the show Panorama this weekend, MI6 chief
Richard Dearlove said that he had briefed Blair well before the war that America’s Iraq intelligence
was “fixed” to meet the administration’s goal of invading Iraq at all costs. Dearlove said that
nine months before the invasion, he attended a meeting in Washington at which he concluded that
war in Iraq was “inevitable”a conclusion he shared with Blair.

“The facts and intelligence” were being “fixed round the policy” by
U.S. President George Bush’s administration, Dearlove said. The documentary claims that Blair
had signed on to support the war as early as April 2002. Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary
who resigned over Iraq, echoed Dearlove’s comments.

“What was propelling the prime minister was a determination that he
would be the closest ally to George Bush and they would prove to the United States administration
that Britain was their closest ally,” Cook told the program. “His problem is that George Bush’s
motivation was regime change. It was not disarmament. Tony Blair knew perfectly well what he was

In the midst of all of this, the Democratic Party is preparing its shiny
new 2008 position on Iraq and terror. Described in Goldberg’s New Yorker article, the political
plan is centered around a new faction that calls itself the “National Security Democrats” (a term
coined by that famous liberal, Richard Holbrooke) and is led by revolting hair-plug survivor Joe
Biden. The position of the “National Security Democrats” is that the party should be “more open
to the idea of military action, and even preemption” and that the Democrats should “try to distance
themselves from the Party’s Post-Vietnam ambivalence about the projection of American power.”
Additionally, the Democrats ought to reconsider their traditional stance as an opposition party
and learn to embrace Republican heroes like Ronald Reagan.

“Everyone knew ‘Reagan is dangerous,’ remember?” Biden says. “He talked
about freedom, and what do we do? We say it’s bad speech, dangerous speech.” Democrats, he says,
“are making the same mistakes again.”

It would be easy to dismiss the Biden revival as a cheap stunt by a discredited
party hack with all the national appeal of the streptococcus virus, except for one thing.
Biden’s “national security” camp includes all four of the expected main contenders for the Democratic
nominationBiden himself, Hillary Clinton, Indiana senator Evan Bayh, and John Edwards.
New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, another outside contender, is also a member of this camp.
We are going to be hearing a lot about “National Security Democrats” in the next three years.

The Democratic party leadership’s persistent and bizarre campaign
of self-condemnation and Republican bootlicking is one of those things that, on its face, makes
very little logical sense. It makes cultural sense; we have come to expect that the cultural
figures we call the Democrats will respond to electoral failure first by sniveling and finger-pointing,
and then by puffing up their chests and telling their dates they know how to handle themselves in
a bar fight. From the Republicans we expect just the opposite; beaten at the polls, they immediately
start cozying up to snake-handlers and gun freaks and denouncing school lunches as socialism.
It is impossible to imagine a Newt Gingrich responding, say, to LBJ’s Great Society by concocting
its own expensive plan to feed the poor black manbut we fully expect that a Democrat who loses
an election will suddenly start to reconsider his opposition to preemtpive invasion and Reaganomics.

We expect these things, so they strike us as logical when we see them happen.
But they make no sense. A merely cynical opposition party would be emboldened by poll numbers showing
majority opposition to the war to court those votes. And a moral one would seize upon news of the sort
coming out of Britain to argue to not only to their own voters (who would unanimously support them
in this aim), but to the country at large, that the invasion of Iraq was based upon a fallacy, illegal
and impeachable.

But the Democratic leaders do neither. Instead, they tell 53 percent
of the country that they are mistaken, and throw their chips in with the other 47 percent, who incidentally
support the other party and are not likely to ever budge. They then go further and try to argue that
fighting the war on terror requires abandoning health care, education and Social Securityan
idea that, let’s face it, makes no fucking sense at all.

Franklin Roosevelt never argued anything like that, and he fought a
global world war against two mighty industrial powers. But now 4000 retards in caves are going to
close down the entire American school system. If that is the Democratic idea of looking “strong,”
one hates to imagine what weakness would look like.