Democrats & Liberals Archives

Soft Soap Hard Soap

Since our hands are dirty now and quickly getting dirtier in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in the Palestinian territories, we need a little cleanser in our lives. One way to look at the Presidential race is that it is comprised of two ad campaigns for soap. One is a hard gritty bar of soap that can force the crud off with a lot of rubbing but will leave little skin behind. The other is a softer soap that will work with the crud and soften it, removing it by persuading it to just let go. The interesting thing about this analogy is that it corresponds all too well with the reality of politics today. Candidates are sold like soap, not on their real merits but on the values that their marketers think will draw your votes. How do you get to know your own candidate if his “Handlers” are always there to keep him on message? The answer of course is that you do not ever get to know him at all; that is the point of all the advertising.

Bush’s branding is cleverer than Kerry’s thus far but his reality index is impacting its success. Oh yes there is something out there we ought to pay attention to in this race in particular, the real world. Let’s take a trip there for a moment and contrast and compare. In the advertising world w likes to link himself to 9/11 because it reminds us that we all gathered around him right after those events. In the real world he had nothing to do with that day; he was just an innocent bystander as horrified as the rest of us. Both are true to some extent but the President cannot be allowed to be an innocent bystander in the real world. The grit in that bar of soap is sharp enough to cut but not hard enough to really grind away the crud. Was w a bystander in the worst event of our lifetimes? He should not have been; if he was that disconnected from events on that day I want someone else in charge the next time it happens.

In the ads w was decisive after his staff got the day it took them to respond to the crisis behind them. We were not on a wartime alert status at the time so one lost day isn’t too bad, is it? In the real world it then depends how you look at the response he generated. W’s response to 9/11 included a war in Afghanistan that was handled well as long as the military was in command of the situation. Iraq too was a success up to the point where we had to manage a broken society without enough troops to do it. The events since then in both places are turning our decisive commander into a bystander again; Bremer is to blame for the mess in Iraq. That idea is floating around as a reason why Bush is still good soap in spite of the mess there. Afghanistan does not even get honorable mention any more but that crud is still on our hands.

Would Kerry have done better? The soft soap might have gotten more support for the Iraqi war or he might not have chosen to fight it based on the real evidence, which Bush had access to but Kerry and Congress did not. Kerry would likely have gone into Afghanistan and worked harder on that nation which is going to be an ongoing problem in the world. Poppy production is up again and the money from the crop is going into arming the Warlords and the Taliban. The Warlords will only support a national government as long as it helps them retain power. The Taliban are not our friends. This combination will not produce a stable democratic society there any time soon. In any case the hard soap fails the test of cleaning up the crud from Kabul. One spot of dirt, Usama is still not likely to be cleaned up any time soon and even if he is the rest of the crud around him is just getting thicker and harder. Will the soft soap work any better, I am willing to give it a try, it can do no worse.

Aside from terrorism which is what this election seems to be about, how about that economy? Is it the Democrats issue based on a lack of jobs, or the Republican’s issue based on the stock market rally? Well the crud left there is thinner than a few months ago and mercifully the job numbers seem to be recovering a little bit. In the advertising world tax cuts fixed things, in the real world they gave us record deficits. The recovery is actually due to our wartime spending and the unwise use of middle class home equity for consumption of goods. The crud is still there but it is in the deep dark shadow of the war. The real estate bubble (blister) will really hurt when it bursts. Medicare is in worse shape than before we reformed it, Social Security is still not secure, private pensions are still in trouble and nothing is being done about any of that crud.

Then of course there is the environment, which in this Administration is crud hiding in the nether crevasses of the body politic. The hard bar just plain doesn’t go there at all, it is against his religion. The soft soap is willing to try but the last four years have made things a lot worse. W has made things so much worse that it is likely that Kerry’s first four years will be spent just trying to find the skin of this issue. We have dismantled not just thirty years of bipartisan progress but much of what has been done in the last one hundred years. W has removed environmental protections that were in place since Teddy Roosevelt brought the government and the environment together. In the advertising world w loves the environment. Rumor has it that Karl was going to pose w with an eagle on his shoulder in one ad, but the bird made w’s head look too small. That statement is a joke. (This is a disclaimer for those of you who think nothing is funny about politics any more.) In any case it is clear that we may need more crud removal power than either candidate can bring to bear on our body politic. Choose wisely, the skin you stand to lose is really your own. God bless and keep you safe in these times of too much crud, too much soap and too little cleanliness in politics.
©Henri Reynard/GoldenBrush Interactive

Posted by Henri Reynard at April 30, 2004 7:40 PM