Views » November 16, 2004
Lets Get Real
How better to commit the perfect crime than to insist it never happened?
Bush & company’s theft of the election was a crime so obvious that it requires more effort to deny than to affirm. This rip-off was as flagrant as the L.A. cops’ assault on Rodney King, Kerry’s stellar soldiering in Vietnam, or Bush’s lousy record in the Texas Air National Guard, and yet this national calamity is being dismissed as a delusion.
The reason for the Busheviks’ denial is as obvious as the theft itself: How better to commit the perfect crime than to insist it never happened?
And yet what makes this stance so dangerous is not just its use on the right, but its prevalence throughout the corporate media (MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann excepted) and even among those on the left. To charge that the Republicans did not legitimately rout the Democrats provokes the counter-charge that such claims “hurt the cause” by floating angry fantasy instead of scientific fact.
Rather than urge cautiousness, such automatic counter-claims quash all discussion of electoral fraud, as if the very notion were far-fetched. “This charge was false, so all charges must be wrong,” is the response that Karl Rove wants from us, as we will then conclude, conveniently for him, “Case closed!”
A niggling over-focus on particulars is just the attitude that propagandists seek to cultivate because it helps them cloud the issue. Thus were a few trivial aspects of John Kerry’s military record used to call that entire record into question. And thus did Rove succeed in driving journalists away from Bush’s scandalous Guard service by distracting them with the canard that those incriminating documents revealed by CBS were fakes—or rather, that one of them might not have been authentic.
To let ourselves believe that the “election” was legitimate because this claim or that has been disproved(apparently) is to not honor reason. On the contrary, a veritable sea of evidence, statistical as well as anecdotal and circumstantial, supports the claim that Bush, again, was not elected by the people.
To nod agreement that this was indeed an honest win is to forget how Bush was shoehorned into office in the first place; to ignore the ease with which electronic totals can be changed without a trace; to suppress the fact that Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S—the major manufacturers of touch screen voting machines and central tabulators—are owned and run by Bush Republicans, who have made no secret of their partisan intentions; to deny the value of the exit polls, which turn out to have been “mistaken” only in the swing states; to downplay the weird inflation of the Bush vote in county after county, where the number of votes for president was somehow higher than the number of voters who turned out; to ignore the bald chicanery of the Bush supporters who ran the central polling station in Ohio’s Warren County and forced out the press and poll monitors so they could count the vote in secret; to forget the numerous accounts of vote fraud coast to coast throughout the prior weeks of early voting; to overlook the fact that every single “glitch” or “error” that has been reported favors Bush; to ignore the countless instances of ballots—absentee, provisional—thrown away or left uncounted; to forget that the civilian vote abroad (some four million Americans) was being mishandled by the Pentagon (which had somehow become responsible for doing the State Department’s job); and to ignore the many dirty tricks reported—the polling places quickly relocated at the last minute, the fake voter-registration drives, the thousands of Americans who found themselves not on the rolls, the police road-blocks, the bullying pro-Bush poll workers, the machines that kept translating votes for Kerry into votes for Bush. And so on.
To forget or ignore all this and to accept—on faith—the mere say-so of Bush & Company (and our compliant media) is to make clear that you are not a member of what the Busheviks deride as “the reality-based community.” Those who help discredit false reports are doing that community, and this erstwhile democracy, a precious service. But, those who would abort the whole inquiry in the name of science or journalistic probity and “closure” are putting that community, and this nation, at grave risk.
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Mark Crispin Miller
Mark Crispin Miller is a professor of media studies at NYU and author, most recently, of Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney’s New World Order. The DVD of his new film, A Patriot Act, is available at his Web site.