Monday, November 13, 2006

Matchstick Men

A few days ago, as the campaign mudslinging became increasingly offensive and absurd, I jokingly suggested we elect Borat president. Then I thought about our current Chief Executive. In spite of his ultra-elite background (educated at Andover, Yale and Harvard, grandson of a U.S. Senator and son of a Presiden-- how many Americans can say that? like six?) he often appears in rural working clothes, and speaks with a corny made-up accent.

Like Borat, W. pretends to be from a simple country village. That tumble-down shed reporters use in Crawford might as well be a stage set. We all know Laura isn’t inside it cookin’ up a mess of vittles.

Despite W.’s attempts at simple folksiness, his approach, like that of Borat’s Sacha Baron Cohen, is shrewd and calculated. Like all artists of the con, they succeed through deception and misdirection. They disarm people and get them to betray their own interests. Borat is not your buddy, he’s using you to get what he wants.

W. takes lavish care of his big-money donors and is mystified to the point of pique at working people who don’t see the same rosy economic outlook as his CEO pals. They get the no-bid contracts, we drive the unarmored trucks to Fallujah, or fight with insurance companies in Gulfport, or at our second job.

The aw-shucks shuck and jive works well at first, people go along to get along and you leave them laughing. Then folk wise up. Cohen is over here because he’s too well known in his native Britain. As W. has prompted us to say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” That’s the midterm in a nutshell.


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