Politics from North of the 49th Parallel
Published on August 19, 2004 By IanGillespie In Politics

Crossposted at The BlogsCanada E-Group:

Why are they doing this? What are they so afraid of?

As many readers will already know, guests at quasi-public Bush-Cheney campaign appearances are now being asked to sign Castro-like loyalty oaths before being granted entrance to rallies.

This isn’t just weird, it’s scary. But most importantly, it’s really weird.

Which brings us to our first question:

Why are they doing this?

Such rallies couldn’t be aimed at persuading swing voters, as swing voters aren’t allowed within spitting distance of the premises.

Nor could they be aimed at energizing the base, as only the most loyal, dedicated Republicans are given tickets to begin with.

And they certainly couldn’t be keyed toward TV coverage -- these pathetic love-ins are so boring that I doubt even Fox News would waste it’s time covering them.

In fact, the only thing worse than these fawning fabrications, would be having no contact with the public at all.

And there it is: Karl Rove seems to have decided -- it’s this, or nothing.

Under no circumstances -- and under no amount of pressure -- can the campaign risk exposing President Bush to the general public.

Which brings us right back to our second question:

What are they so afraid of?

After all, hecklers, protesters and unruly questioners have become common place in American politics. They’ve certainly been present at John Kerry’s events.

In fact, step back a second. We don’t see much breaking news coverage of the rabid ‘Kerry-haters’ attending JFK's rallies, do we? This stuff (hecklers, protesters) is pretty much factored in -- nothing new, nothing news worthy.

Whatever benefit this silencing of dissent may provide, it's surely being overshadowed by Bush's pseudo-authoritarian tactics.

Simply put, this a matter of George W. Bush’s reaction to confrontation. He could avoid this entire mess by just brushing off such attacks -- as he has so many times in the past.

And, again, there’s our answer: maybe -- just maybe -- Karl Rove isn’t afraid of harsh questions at all, but afraid of how the President might react to them.

But is there any reason to believe Bush might become so unhinged?

As a matter of fact, there is.

Nixon, anyone?

From the reliable -- though gossipy -- Capital Hill Blue:

"White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home."

According to two reports by Teresa Hampton, Bush “goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as ‘enemies of the state.’”

On June 3rd, Bush told aides that his decision to finally allow CIA Director George Tenet to resign had been “God’s will”.

On July 7th, Bush stormed off during a press conference -- shouting and swearing at aides -- because reporters had asked him questions about his relationship with Enron CEO Ken Lay.

Most disturbingly, staffers claim that Bush has become so obsessed with the attacks against him that he can no longer even focus on al Qaida and Iraq:

"We’re at war, there’s no doubt about it. What I don’t know anymore is just who the enemy might be. We seem to spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaida and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing."

End Game

The most salient distinction between Nixon and Bush -- or at least between their respective descents into paranoid -- is a matter of timing.

Nixon’s madness flowed from an inability to come to terms with his impending ouster. Bush’s deterioration has occurred not only during the most delicate moment of his Presidency, but in the midst of his campaign to remain President.

At the very time leaders are expected to rise in defence of their leadership, George W. Bush appears increasingly incapable of coping with even the slightest challenge to his divine authority.

Which leaves just one question: anybody else looking forward to those debates?

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