Pretzels And A Book: Sign And Portent

by Deck Deckert

March 11, 2002

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Something is stirring out there.

The sycophantic media has been telling us ever since 9-11 that the whole country is united behind George W. Bush's plans for eternal warfare, welfare for rich corporations, and the abolition of civil rights. His stratospheric approval ratings are cited as proof.

The bumbling clown who lost the popular vote and was given the presidency by the Supreme Court has been transformed by the tragedy of terrorism into a heroic giant, we are told, a man who carries the whole world on his shoulders with panache.

When he isn't tumbling off his couch while eating pretzels.

And therein lies one of the bits of evidence that people are beginning to look at what's going down.

While the media pretended to swallow the pretzel theory of how the prez got a banged-up face while all alone watching TV, the people weren't so gullible. The jokes began flying immediately, and haven't stopped.

Just the other day I received one of the latest, a description of how to eat pretzels safely. And just in case there was any doubt about the target, it was made crystal clear with the following: "RAISE PRETZEL TOWARDS face -- avoiding eyes, ears, nostrils, hotline to Moscow and Nuclear Button in the process."

It turns out that you really can't fool all of the people all of the time.

It's true that too many people were willing to accept the idea that it is all right to rain bombs on one of the weakest poorest nations on earth to destroy "terrorists." They accepted Bush's assurances that Osama bin Laden was the evil man who ordered the destruction of the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, that he was in Afghanistan, and the only way to get him out was to bomb the country until the government was overturned. Not everyone agreed, of course, but the media aided the war effort by ignoring any and all contrary voices.

But it's becoming increasingly hard to hide the fact that the Afghanistan war that was declared "won" weeks ago is still raging and bin Laden is still missing (although there is a report that he was seen with Elvis last week.) And now it isn't only 'enemy' soldiers and innocent civilians who are dying, but Americans in what yet could become a Bush-league Vietnam war.

And it is hard to hide the fact that other parts of the world where we've meddled are exploding. Israel's Sharon is waging war on essentially unarmed Palestinian civilians with American fighter planes and helicopter gun ships. Pakistan and India, both nuclear powers, are threatening to go to war, and India is plagued by bitter riots.

Then there is Enron. The media, which poured out millions of words on O.J., Princess Di, and Clinton's sexcapades, has already written the Enron scandal off, to the relief of all politicians who accepted the corrupt company's bribes, most especially Bush. But in the end, it will be impossible to keep the story contained and Bush can't be protected forever from the revelations about his involvement with the company.

There are pundits who speak admiringly about Bush's reputed immense popularity and opine that it means he will be as invulnerable as was Reagan, protected by a right-wing corporate media that loves his policies whether or not they like the man. But Bush isn't Reagan, who, for all his faults and sins, was a relatively intelligent politician. Bush is too dumb and too vulnerable. He is going to continue stumbling over pretzels, and the media, however reluctantly, will have to acknowledge some of his gaffes.

Bush's popularity is an artificial creation maintained by White House spin doctors, a toadying media, and the lack of opposition from the spineless Democrats. But the average citizen is getting more adept at adjusting for spin, the media is getting a little restless, and even a couple of Democrats are showing some backbone.

In short, there is a substantial backlash against the values of Bushcroft and Company. It is evident in the plethora of anti-Bush websites that still prevail, the pretzel jokes, and, most recently, the success of a book that its publisher wanted suppressed -- or at least toned down.

Michael Moore's Stupid White Men -- and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation, an irreverent look at the country and most particularly Bush, is currently hovering near the top of the charts.

Moore himself gloats in an e-mail to supporters and fans: "Stupid White Men" debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list this week, and at #1 on the Publisher's Weekly nonfiction bestseller list for independent bookstores. It's still #1 for all books on Amazon, and, my personal favorite for a good laugh, #4 on the bestseller list for the Wall Street Journal. By the fifth day of release, the book had gone into its 9th printing."

The original publication date of the book was last October. In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the media-nurtured wave of jingoism, the publisher, HarperCollins, apparently got nervous and asked Moore to tone down the book. Moore says that, after he refused to do so, the publisher threatened to pulp 50,000 copies that had already been printed. "I told them I wouldn't change 50 per cent of one word," Moore said. Eventually HarperCollins decided to go ahead with the book.

So what are we to make of the success of a book that suggests Bush is a threat to national security, and asks some pointed questions:

"Are you able to read and write at an adult level?"

"Are you an alcoholic, and if so, how is this affecting your performance as commander in chief?"

"Are you a felon?"

In discussing the first question, Moore adds: "...if you have trouble comprehending the complex position papers you are handed as the leader of the Mostly-Free World, how can we entrust something like our nuclear secrets to you?"

And when it comes to the second question, many of us think of pretzels.

Could it be then that the success of Stupid White Men is a portent?

The answer is yes. No amount of White House or media spin can hide much longer the fact that Bush is an extremely limited man who is in far over his head. In his heart of hearts, Bush himself may wish that his daddy, his rich buddies, his party and friends on the high court hadn't given him an office he couldn't win at the ballot box and isn't fit to fill.

Not everybody yet is beginning to look at what's going down. But more and more people are.

After 9-11, an evil axis of the media, the White House and the Democrats tried to turn the truth into a pretzel. They are beginning to choke on it.



Deck Deckert has spent nearly two decades as copy editor, wire editor and news editor at several metropolitan newspapers, including the Miami Herald and Miami News, before becoming a freelance writer. His articles and stories on everything from alligator farming to UFOs have appeared in numerous U.S. publications. He has written two young adult novels under a pen name, and co-authored a novel about the NATO war on Yugoslavia, Letters from the Fire, with Alma Hromic, who he met in an Internet discussion group. Deckert and Hromic subsequently married and are writing a book about their experience with Internet romance, Cyberdance.

Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Deck Deckert 2002. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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