August 10, 2004

Ironic contextual ad placement strikes again

Naomi Klein has a pretty clever column in The Nation in which she takes on one of my pet peeves: Bush bashing.

I know, I know. Bush deserves to be bashed. But like Klein, I've grown to cringe every time one of my well-meaning friends forwards the latest dopey Bushism or buys a pack of National Embarrass-mints. " There is something about George W. Bush's combination of ignorance, piety and swagger that triggers a condition in progressives I've come to think of as Bush Blindness," writes Klein. "When it strikes, it causes us to lose sight of everything we know about politics, economics and history and to focus exclusively on the admittedly odd personalities of the people in the White House. Other side effects include delighting in psychologists' diagnoses of Bush's warped relationship with his father and brisk sales of Bush "dum gum"--$1.25."

Now maybe I would have blogged this article anyway, for reasons I'll go into after the jump, but what made it absolutely necessary was the laughably inappropriate ad that some keyword-scanning software program decided to insert right in the middle of Klein's argument...

What makes Klein's column a winner is that she goes beyond the lament of Bush bashing to make a point I hadn't considered.

This madness has to stop, and the fastest way of doing that is to elect John Kerry, not because he will be different but because in most key areas--Iraq, the "war on drugs," Israel/Palestine, free trade, corporate taxes--he will be just as bad. The main difference will be that as Kerry pursues these brutal policies, he will come off as intelligent, sane and blissfully dull. That's why I've joined the Anybody But Bush camp: Only with a bore like Kerry at the helm will we finally be able to put an end to the presidential pathologizing and focus on the issues again.

Most Nation readers are already solidly in the Anybody But Bush camp, convinced that now is not the time to point out the similarities between the two corporate-controlled parties. I disagree: We need to face up to those disappointing similarities, and then we need to ask ourselves whether we have a better chance of fighting a corporate agenda pushed by Kerry or by Bush.

I have no illusions that the left will have "access" to a Kerry/Edwards White House. But it's worth remembering that it was under Bill Clinton that progressive movements in the West began to turn our attention to systems again: corporate globalization, even--gasp--capitalism and colonialism. We began to understand modern empire not as the purview of a single nation, no matter how powerful, but a global system of interlocking states, international institutions and corporations, an understanding that allowed us to build global networks in response, from the World Social Forum to Indymedia. Innocuous leaders who spout liberal platitudes while slashing welfare and privatizing the planet push us to better identify those systems and to build movements agile and intelligent enough to confront them. With Mr. Dum Gum out of the White House, progressives will have to get smart again, and that can only be good.

Worth reading the rest. Just don't click on any ads.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Oh no! Another Hitler comparison!
Alert the GOP!

Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator," the 1930s
send-up of that kooky Hitler, is rather difficult
to watch now that we know more about Nazi atrocities.
The movie has certainly lost its impact.
By the same token, Bush bashing that centers
around his personality instead to his
policies ceases to be funny (or useful as political ammo)
now that Bush has created another Hell on Earth
in Iraq.

Ron Rosenbaum is absolutely fucking scathing on that film...it's in his essay "Chaplin and Benigni: The Arrogance of Clowns," which is in his big collection. Great piece, and dead on...both Klein's article and this comment are dead on too.

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