Too Bad to Be True
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:
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