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Too Bad to Be True
by Alan Bisbort

March 22, 2004 -- HARTFORD (apj.us) -- Earlier this month, a Democratic pollster came to Yale University to answer the question "Do Americans Care About the Environment?" The event, part of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies' "Politics and Environment in the 2004 Election Year" Series, piggybacked off a similar presentation by a Republican pollster.

The Democratic pollster had a surprising perspective on this question, one that perhaps offers a clue as to why George W. Bush has been a beneficiary of puffed up poll numbers for the past three-plus years. The issue of the environment resonates as a polling issue, the pollster said, but only to a certain extent. Because the vast majority of Americans agree that a clean environment is a desirable thing, any loudly partisan attacks on Bush in this regard, no matter how justified they are -- and no American president has ever been as bad on the environment as Bush -- have a tendency to backfire. This is simply because people can't believe anyone, or any government, could be that bad.

In polling circles, this is called the "Too Bad to Be True" syndrome.

It would seem logical, then, that this syndrome can be extended to every issue on the table this election year. Bush is too bad to be true on EVERY SINGLE ISSUE. Or, rather, he is too bad to be believable but his badness is indeed true. Can you think of any on which he is not wretchedly bad?

Are you better off financially under Bush? Are you safer? Are your skies and waters and food supply cleaner, or even free of arsenic, mercury, carbon dioxide, carcinogens and mad cow disease prions? Are your civil liberties more secure? Are taxes even going down, the mantra that serves as the fig leaf for this obscene neo-conservative beast? Is there even a clearly defined vision for the next four years, let alone next four weeks or days, which we can examine?

No, to all of these things.

No, a thousand times over, in fact.

The Bush Administration is just making this stuff up as they go along, and the only consideration they have in mind is the further consolidation of power. The result is a crisis-driven agenda that plays on fear and violence, all the while it is lying its collective ass off to the most vulnerable of its citizens-the seniors (about Medicare) and the children (about not leaving any behind).

In short, George W. Bush is, as George Thorogood once put it, bad to the bone.

So how do you attack someone so bad, when the badness itself is so seamless, so monumentally, profoundly all-encompassing? He is like the human equivalent of global warming-where does one begin to get their arms around him?

Allow me to suggest a few strategies to be employed in every town and hamlet and municipality in America:

* Print out on a single sheet of paper, in the largest font your word program allows, the legend (capitalized and bolded, for emphasis): DUMP BUSH. Put this everywhere you can think to put it. Staple it to trees and bulletin boards. Hand it out on street corners or in front of the grocery store. Tape it to phone booth walls and on sides of vending machines. Place one in the back window of your car. I have had one of these up in my car for three weeks now and I am already getting horn honks, smiles, and thumbs up from drivers and passengers in other cars. I have yet to have a middle finger thrust moronically at me and my car has not been "keyed." And if either of these things happen, well, it will only confirm what I already know about the sort of people who support Bush.

* Do not get in arguments with Bush (or Nader) supporters. It is a waste of energy, time and spiritual strength to try to argue with them. Don't even stay in their presence, if you can avoid it. In fact, make that a matter of honor. Many of these Bushies and Naderites are the equivalent of religious cult adherents and they will eventually need sophisticated and extensive deprogramming techniques to ever be able to think straight again.

* Do not get in arguments with anyone, in fact, because there are a lot of people who can, and must be, persuaded. As a renowned motivational speaker once told me, if you want to catch bees, sometimes you have to use honey. In other words, just present the facts (record deficit, illegal war, monumental lies, etc.) straight up. Try to maintain a good, unhysterical manner and when you are heckled just turn the other cheek and walk away.

* Take every opportunity to correct factual errors from the mouths or pens of Bush supporters. Do it with a sense of humor and earnestness. Don't hector or preach or over intellectualize your points. Just be yourself and the truth will set them free.

* Give what money you can to local candidates who are not Republicans. Make the party pay the price for Bush. Eventually, the sensible Republicans will come around to this realization, because the party has not always been as insane as it is now.

* Give money to shoestring information conduits such as APJ, Smirking Chimp, Buzzflash, MoveOn, and encourage all your friends, acquaintances and family members to check these places out for the truth.

* Get to work now, not next week. By then, it may be too late.

Alan Bisbort is a columnist for the Hartford Advocate. His latest publication is What Happened Here? African American History (Pomegranate).


Alan Bisbort lives, sans wealth, in blue-blooded Connecticut, where he's a columnist for the Hartford Advocate. His most recent publication is "What Happened Here? New York City" (Pomegranate Communications).


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ISSN No. 1523-1690