Liars, Liars Everywhere, But Bush’s Optimism Trumps Kerry’s Anger

Greg Beyer

For the past week, C-Span has been running a series of radio broadcasts by political talk-show hosts in the swing states. As I was flipping through the channels, I happened upon a segment of WPTT radio in Pittsburgh, hosted by Lynn Cullen. The phone lines were open, and a man called in to defend certain policies of the Bush administration. Cullen politely listened as the man addressed points such as Iraq and the war on terrorism. When the call was over, Cullen took a deep breath. Then she began to run through the checklist of charges against the Bush administration – the preemptive war, the mismanaged occupation, intelligence failures, to name a few – but as she did this, her composure suddenly disappeared, and her agitation grew until it became a full-fledged rage. “We are offended,” she said emphatically, referring to the Bush administration in general. “Offended.” And then the radio station cut to a commercial, as Cullen reclined in her seat, utterly disgusted. With those harsh words ringing in my ears, I began to consider the circumstances. Many Americans feel they can no longer trust the government. This is mainly because, despite the existence of evidence, the administration has failed to own up to any of its mistakes. This cannot be denied. The administration wishes to paint an infallible portrait of itself, regardless of brimming insurgencies and that bad guy who just got away. Sometimes I say to myself, “Come on, Bush, say something – anything – just to hint that maybe things aren’t going so perfectly.” Because if he were to do this, we would all understand, right? We would respect him tremendously. Because he’s human, just like the rest of us. He’s our president, and we’re with him all the way, right? Wrong. Because we, the American people, are offended. It’s sort of like a revolution. People all over the country are enraged, repulsed by what has happened these past four years. They loathe the government officials that have been behind major decisions. They are passionate, usually well-intentioned and unyielding in their beliefs. In short, they are a mirror image of the administration they despise. The common charge is that Bush is blind – blind to reality, blind to reason, blind to his duties to the American people. But this very legitimate claim has been taken to such a level by many Democrats that they have somehow managed to illegitimatize it. This perversion is most likely the major factor in Kerry’s inability to pull ahead of Bush in the polls. Consider the average, reasonable, undecided voter. Which party would he find more attractive: the passionate, resolute one or the passionate, resolute, really mad one with the crazy eyes and who sometimes carries a butter knife for effect? Sadly, this is only a slight exaggeration. The other day I mentioned casually to someone that I was voting for George W. Bush. He looked at me incredulously and asked, “Why?” I began to list reasons, only to find he was no longer listening. He didn’t want to hear my reasons. He couldn’t believe that a rational person would even consider such a thing. This is not an isolated incident, but the attitude of the entire anti-Bush movement. In mass numbers, liberals have convinced themselves that Bush is somewhere between idiotic and evil. This, paradoxically, is the driving force behind the Kerry campaign, a campaign that endlessly criticizes Bush for misconceptions of the same caliber. This, of course, leaves voters with a difficult choice. Do we choose the optimistic liars or the angry liars? But there actually is one fact that points us in the right direction: we, the American people, have no good reason to be offended by the actions of this administration. The term “offended” implies some personal slight on the part of the Bush team. But where, I ask, is the evidence of this? In a recent discussion with my father, I lamented the current state of American politics. “The thing is,” he said, “it’s no longer only politics; it’s politics with attitude.” He was absolutely right. And that attitude is exactly what threatens the Democratic party this election season. If Kerry loses, political analysts will deconstruct the campaign and party insiders will point fingers, but the true fatal flaw will most likely go unnoticed. In fact, many will probably claim that the Democrats didn’t get angry enough. If this is the case, it will be a prime example of squandered opportunity – an opportunity to improve our reputation abroad, to replace an administration that has blundered, to right many wrongs. And then the American people will have their reason to be offended.