Monday, August 07, 2006

World War Whatever

C'mon, please get scared!

The Republican noise machine is desperately trying to revive the state of fear that has served BushCo so well in the past. Perhaps the electorate can be frightened one more time to cast its ballots in favor of the minions of our “war president.” It's worked before in the Global War on Terror. Could it work again for ... World War III?
Newt Gingrich: We're in the early stages of what I would describe as the third World War.... [Y]ou have to say to yourself: this is, in fact, World War III.
Gingrich's comment to Tim Russert set off a flurry of responses, complete with gladsome cries from the radical right as they clasped to their bosom a brand-new war meme. Sean Hannity solemnly declared, “I have absolutely zero disagreement.” (Hannity has a lot more “absolutely zero” than he realizes, poor thing.) And Jay Bryant no doubt thought he was cleverly stealing some of Al Gore's thunder when he intoned, “Gingrich's warning is, for many, a very inconvenient truth.” How droll these rightists are!

Of course, some people think the former House speaker is an optimist. One of these folks is a former CIA director, who anticipated the war- and fearmongering back in 2003:
James Woolsey: This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us. Hopefully not the full four-plus decades of the Cold War.
The prescient Woolsey is joined in his number choice by a resident scholar at the rightwing American Enterprise Institute; Michael Ledeen says, “It's more like World War IV because there was a Cold War, which was certainly a world war.”

V, anyone?

Although he initially thought he had “absolutely zero disagreement” with Gingrich's characterization of the situation, Hannity apparently changed his mind a few days later when he declared, “We are loaded up today, as the Middle East on the brink of World War V, here.” As noted by Media Matters, Hannity did not explain his numbering scheme. Of course, Hannity speaks in such lucid phrases that it would seem petty to demand that he justify his statements or—even more challenging—be required to parse them.

Hey, when it comes to this war-numbering stuff, I've heard it all before! More than twenty years ago, I read these words:
By Day Sixteen the news anchors were trotting out historians who spent their time debating whether the current unpleasantness should be called World War III, IV, V, the Fourth Nuclear War, or the First Interplanetary War....

In the end, the decision was made in an office on Sixth Avenue, New York City, Eastern Capitalist Confederation, by a network logo design analyst. The overnight Arbitrons on the numeral V were strongly positive. The V looked sexy and might stand for Victory, so World War V it was.

The next day, Sixth Avenue was vaporized.
This excerpt is from John Varley's Demon, published in 1984 and still available in paperback.

There is, indeed, nothing new under the sun. For our next recapitulation of the past, how about a faithful recreation of the Republican electoral wipeout of 1974? That fortunate debacle came in the wake of Nixon's Watergate scandals and resignation. Bush, who is even worse than Nixon, deserves no less a chastisement in 2006.

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