by David Bordelon
(Swans - February 27, 2006) At the recent winter meeting of the Republican National Committee, President Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, made it clear that the Republican Party will focus on terrorism and 9/11 in the next election.
With this decision Rove joins the legions of disaffected men who, chafing under the constraints of their government and society, resort to fear to subvert the political process.
Lexicographers have developed a name for these kinds of people: terrorists.
As is obvious from the name, a terrorist's main weapon is terror. Exploiting the very mental acuity that allowed us to rise to the top of the food chain -- the tendency to wonder "what if" -- terrorists turn evolutionary biology in on itself, making us prisoners of our own thought process.
And while Rove doesn't kill innocent people for political ends, he does, like a terrorist, use fear to cloud people's minds.
In this he mirrors the Bush administration as a whole, which often resorts to fear instead of facts to drum up support for its policies. During the run-up to the attack on Iraq, Vice President Cheney conjured up visions of mushroom clouds, while Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warned of that ultimate fear: "unknown unknowns."
And during the run-up to the election of 2004, as then Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge later admitted, the administration orchestrated changes in the oranges and yellows of the Terrorist Alert System to exploit the public's genuine fears of an attack in a bid to distract and confuse voters.
Yet what perplexes informed citizens, those who refuse to cower before the rhetoric disseminated by Rove and other government officials, is this administration's own fear. President Bush, for all of his "bring'm on" bluster, remains afraid of the very citizens he governs. In his "Town Hall Meetings," he only meets people hand-picked by his staff.
Bush seems wary of the very mental process that he and his administration are so keen on exploiting: "what if." If he met with citizens whose minds were not clouded with fear, he would be confronted with "what if" scenarios distinctly different from the fear mongering of Rove and company.
For instance, he may find citizens asking questions such as these: What if we had used our resources to attack Al Qaeda instead of Iraq? What if we had built our energy policy on renewable energy instead of rapidly disappearing fossil fuels? What if we had used the budget surplus to shore up our country's infrastructure instead of converting it into tax windfalls for the wealthy? What if we had expanded our existing prescription benefit plan and negotiated for lower prices instead of adopting one designed to maximize profits for big business?
The thought of questions like these have Republicans running scared. These questions suggest a citizenry which fully understands the dangers of terrorism, but also understands that political decisions should be based not on fear, but on facts. Unfortunately, an administration that fails to rein in government spending, fails to take care of its citizens when natural disasters strike, and fails to plan for the aftermath of a war, has to avoid the facts and turn up the fear.
It's thoughts like these that keep Karl Rove awake at night, and it's thoughts like these that turn him into a terrorist.
It's enough to awaken the Winston Churchill in us all.
Karl Rove, Winston Churchill... What about Swans? Keep us flying, please.