Stealing the midterm elections and the power of mythBy Mike Whitney
Oct. 25, 2006
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“The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” --Gustave Le Bon, ”The Crowd”
Karl Rove is not Harry Houdini. He can’t change the fact that the Democrats could take up to 40 seats in the House and that the Republicans may lose the Senate as well. He can’t change the national polling-data which favors the Democrats by a considerable margin, or the exit polling which is predicted to show substantial Democratic gains, too. And, there’s nothing Rove can do to stop the perception that the elections are now expected to be a Democratic landslide extending from sea to shining sea. The only thing that Rove can do to win the midterms is to purge the voting roles in key states and crank up the voting machines to “full-tilt.”
But even that won’t be enough this time.
The problem with that strategy is that it will only increase the suspicion that the elections have been rigged. Given the current projections, any massive voter tampering is likely to trigger a public outcry that will inevitably result in an investigation. That’s not what Rove or anyone else on the Bush team wants.
So what is Rove supposed to do?
One thing is certain; he won’t play by the rules. He’ll have to fabricate a story which will explain why at the very last minute, the majority of Americans switched their vote to Republican and changed the outcome of the election.
What else can he do?
That proved to be quite easy in 2004 because Rove had the entire corporate media standing behind his cockamamie story that 3 or 4 million fundamentalists, who had never voted before in a general election, suddenly poured down from the mountains to cast their ballot for their champion, George Bush. This absurd narrative was spouted from every media-soapbox in the nation until it was generally accepted as fact. The media then proceeded to quash any investigation of the massive voter fraud which took place across the country (particularly in Ohio) while discrediting critics as conspiracy theorists.
It worked like a charm.
But things have changed since 2004 and there are signs that a growing number of elites now realize that Bush’s “stay the course” strategy in Iraq is bound to fail and they’re looking for different leadership. That explains the deluge of bad news pouring down on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave like a Burmese monsoon.
Most of the scandals; the National Intelligent Estimate (NIE), Woodward’s book, and the increased media focus on Iraq, and the Foley escapades, have all been timed to coincide with the upcoming elections in order to sabotage any chance of a Republican victory.
For example, on Sunday, ABC ran a 12-minute segment on Iraq, complete with smoldering vehicles, wailing Iraqi women, and bloody children screaming in a Baghdad hospital.
When was the last time we saw coverage like that from the corporate media?
What we are seeing is a concerted effort by disgruntled plutocrats to take back the country from the fanatics in the White House. The divisions in the American ruling class have never been greater and the rash of scandals indicates that the fighting is quickly escalating into open warfare. This combat will only get more ferocious until Nov 7.
Rove faces a daunting task, although it’s not insurmountable. The problem is that he has very few options. We know from experience that he will probably invent a fictional story that can be used to explain results that would otherwise seem unbelievable. This strategy has been used many times before and has worked with every application.
In the Orwellian world of make-believe; the narrative is everything. Invent a good story, run it through the ministry of truth (the media) and stick to it no matter how ridiculous it may sound. After all, if the media can shift the national debate from the war in Iraq, Social Security, and the enormous federal deficits to 14 weepy fundamentalists waving signs in front of a hospice in Florida where a brain-dead patient is being kept alive against her will; anything is possible.
In researching the Bush administration’s manipulation of public perceptions, I came across an interesting summary of the State Department’s Philip Zelikow, who was executive director of the 9-11 Commission, that greatest of all charades.
According to Wikipedia: “Prof. Zelikow’s area of academic expertise is the creation and maintenance of, in his words, ‘public myths’ or ‘public presumptions’ which he defines as ‘beliefs (1) thought to be true (although not necessarily known with certainty) and (2) shared in common within the relevant political community.’ In his academic work and elsewhere he has taken a special interest in what he has called ‘searing’ or ‘molding’ events (that) take on 'transcendent’ importance and therefore retain their power even as the experiencing generation passes from the scene. . . . He has noted that ‘a history’s narrative power is typically linked to how readers relate to the actions of individuals in the history; if readers cannot make the connection to their own lives, then a history may fail to engage them at all.” (“Thinking about Political History” Miller center Report, winter 1999, p 5-7)
Isn’t that the same as saying there is neither history nor truth; that what is really important is the manipulation of epochal events so they serve the interests of society’s managers? Thus, it follows that if the government can create their own “galvanizing events,” then they can write history any way they choose.
If that’s the case, then perhaps the entire war on terror is cut from whole cloth; a garish public relations maneuver devoid of meaning.
Wikipedia helps to clarify this point by adding: “In the Nov-Dec 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs he (Zelikow) co-authored (with the former head of the CIA) an article entitled 'Catastrophic Terrorism' in which he speculated that if the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center had succeeded, ‘the resulting horror and chaos would have exceeded our ability to describe it. Such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a watershed event in American history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine America’s fundamental sense of security, as did the Soviet atomic bomb test in 1949. Like Pearl Harbor, the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force.” (Philip Zelikow, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
That was written in 1998!
Amazing. It is almost like Zelikow knew what was going to happen on 9-11 and was drawing attention to the “draconian measures” (scaling back civil liberties) which may seem attractive to ruling elites in the policy establishment.
Now, (coincidentally) everything has evolved almost exactly as Zelikow predicted. Just like Pearl Harbor, 9-11 has “divided our past and future into a before and after.” The post-9-11 world relates to a world in which personal liberty is no longer protected, and where surveillance, detention and the use of deadly force are all permitted. It is a world in which “America’s fundamental sense of security” has been shattered and will continue to be shattered as a way of managing public opinion.
As Zelikow presciently implies, the post 9-11 world depends entirely on “public myths”; fairy tales invented by society’s supervisors which perpetuate the illusion of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
So, how does this apply to Karl Rove?
There are only two weapons in the imperial tool chest; force and deception. I expect that the anticipated Democratic landslide will be preempted by massive voter fraud accompanied by some type of “searing event”; that way the fantastical outcome of a GOP victory can be neatly folded into a larger and all-pervasive "myth."
As we have been reminded many times: Reality no longer matters; only the perception of reality. The power of myth reigns supreme.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: [email protected].
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