Powered by Blogger

Who links to me?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Genius of Co-opting Issues

Last night, President Bush gave his 6th State of the Union address. It was a mostly forgettable speech filled with the same tired old rhetoric that Bush has been shoveling at us for years. One comment, however, will likely go down in history: Bush's admission that the U.S. is addicted to oil.

While some will applaud the fact that the Corporate Republican Party has finally admitted this obvious truth, I'm sorry to break the news that this admission is nothing more than empty words covering for a lack of substantive effort. Let me explain.

President Clinton was a genius at co-opting issues from the Republicans. The reason is plain: if your party remains powerless to stop an issue from coming to the forefront, you've got to frame the debate according to your terms. So when Clinton sensed the Republican party was making inroads on their campaign to end affirmative action, Clinton came up with "mend it, don't end it" and saved affirmative action programs. When Clinton saw the GOP drive to destroy welfare, Clinton decided to "end welfare as we know it." Clinton was assailed from those on the left on both points, but those attackers miss the larger war. Clinton could not prevent attacks on affirmative action or welfare so he instead led those attacks. Clinton's changes on both issues were far less harsh and drastic than those desired by Republicans, however.

Bush is trying to do the same with the environment. Karl Rove and his Machiavellian cronies surely recognize the pending ecological disaster that we face due to our unholy dependence on oil. Global warming is close to becoming a catastrophe, but more important for the GOP, it's close to becoming a serious issue through which Democrats can retake control of the government. After major environmental disasters begin to befall the U.S., or oil prices simply spiral out of control, Democrats can point to the Oil-Funded Bush Administration as the reason why we are in such a mess. Democrats could point to Dick Cheney's secret meetings with oil executives when he planned energy policy.

Anticipating these events, Bush is now the one to lead the attacks on oil addiction. It's a pure stroke of brilliance for the GOP but will ultimately lead to more environmental havoc. Now Democrats cannot claim that Bush blindly ignored the issue for 8 years because Republicans will quickly point out that Bush told everyone we were addicted to oil. Instead of Democrats having an undeniable upper hand on the issue, the Republicans can now resort to their manipulation of the so-called "objective" press and confuse voters. Now the "objective" press won't report that Bush's environmental record is shameful, they'll instead point to the fact that both parties acknowledge a problem exists but have 2 radically different viewpoints about how to solve the problem. The Democrat solution will likely be grounded in science and reality; the Republican solution will be based upon finding other unhealthy pollutants, acquiring more oil through war, huge tax breaks to their corporate cronies and big talk followed by little results. Instead of reporting that the Democrat solution attacks the problem and the Republican solution doesn't, our corporate media will fail us by acting as if no one knows the real solution and both alternatives are equally plausible. That's not objectivity; that's just reporting both sides and failing to analyze whether one side might objectively be right. This is why our corporate media is a complete joke; they just print press releases and don't investigate. The antecdote often used to demonstrate the false "objectivity" of the corporate news is this: if the GOP announced that the sky is red and the Democrats said it was blue, the media's headline would be "Parties differ as to color of the sky" instead of reporting "Republicans lie about the color of the sky."

Democrats must take the initiative right now to go to town attacking Bush's deplorable environmental record. We cannot let his "addiction to oil" comment stand in a bubble without revealing the true nature of this Earth-hating administration. If we wait too long, Bush and the rest of the GOP will have permanently co-opted the issue from us. The environment cannot afford more Republican assaults upon it.

Comments on ""


Blogger Snave said ... (10:30 PM) : 

Very good comment!

Have you read "Don't Think Of An Elephant" by George Lakoff yet? I think it's a brilliant piece of work on how we can take American political discourse back from the GOP.


post a comment