Friday, April 29, 2005

Bush's Popularity

The Salon has a long article about Bush's unpopularity. It even asks the question whether Bush will pull the Republican party down with him. It asserts that the average American doesn't like Bush's far-right ideas at all, and that even some Republicans are beginning to oppose him now that the polls seem to give them license to do so.

The article is an interesting read, although I'd argue that Bush has always been hugely unpopular with a sizeable number of Americans. You should supplement reading it with Billmon's brilliant book review on Shadia Drury's book Leo Strauss and the American Right, about the Straussian ideology that fuels the neoconservatives, to see why the administration cares nothing for poll outcomes or for the thoughts of some average American. I read that book some years ago and it truly opened my political eyes. Before this reading experience I was like a cute kitten gamboling around blind. Afterwards...Well, you know what happened.

The Republican party today governs with two ideas: One, there is a knowing elite which cynically manipulates the rest of us by feeding us "morals" and "old-time religion". Two, this knowing elite uses the populist value of social conservatism to capture enough rabid voting groups (such as the fundamentalists) to stay in power. I would add to these two my own suspicion that our current president migh as well be called president Diebold. In other words, votes are determined by the one who counts them, not by the ones who vote. But then of course I have been covered in tin foil for years, so pretend that you didn't read these last few lines. Even pretend that I haven't given you umpteen statistical studies which prove that the impossible took place in last November's elections. It's more comfortable that way, to pretend.

Billmon points out what Drury emphasizes in her treatise: that the Straussian philosophy has a strong Feudalist flavor. The whole world must be arranged into rigid hierarchies, with the top layers consisting of the haves who are really atheistic and cynical and manipulative, and the bottom layers of the have-nots who are fed the milk of piety and the soft porn at the same time. For someone with these values polls are naturally meaningless; with only the value that they tell what to manipulate next in the system. What the masses might actually think is unimportant.

Even Bush himself is unimportant. He is a front man, picked for his old-boy mannerisms, his wealth and his connections. The true power is in someone else's hands, and this someone else doesn't care if Bush falls. There will always be some other "old boy" puppet with Karen Hughes and Karl Rove behind the curtain directing the show. Thus, my answer to the question the Salon article posed is that the Republican party will not go down with Bush, not if everything goes along the Straussian plans.

But as I've pointed out many times on this here blog, riding tigers is an uncomfortable leisure occupation. It's hard to get off the saddle, for one thing. And the fundamentalist wingnuts do resemble tigers, they are large and fierce and hungry for some non-Christian blood, and recently they have started rearing on their hind legs and turning their giant slobbering mouths backwards towards the cynical elitist riders. If they don't get some raw meat soon the riders may be in trouble.

The Straussians know this, surely. But whether they are too cocky to prepare adequately is unclear. I'm ready for almost anything, right now, though I predict that first our invisible leaders will try to starve the tigers a little longer, at least until the next elections. Whether the tigers will go along with that is not at all guaranteed.