Nov. Election Is Next Gulf of Tonkin
By Brent Budowsky
September 13, 2006
Editor's Note: In this guest essay, political analyst Brent Budowsky warns that the upcoming congressional elections will be a referendum that will either commit the United States to fight "World War III" or will reassert a two-party system that could put the brakes on this new rush to war. Budowsky says the key will be an emergency investment in honest media that can explain the consequences to the American people. [Reprinted with minor adaptations from Buzzflash.]
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, promoted through fear and falsehood, created a dark and unalterable road on the path to war and tragedy in Vietnam. The Iraq Resolution in 2002, promoted through fear and falsehood, created a dark and unalterable road on the path to war and tragedy in Iraq.
For the first time in the history of our Republic, the coming election in November is nothing less than a national referendum, in which the American people will be voting whether to pursue, or prevent, the next dark and unalterable road to tragic and unwise war.
For the first time in the history of our Republic, a Congressional election is nothing less than a national referendum on whether America will, or will not, be governed as a vibrant two-party nation, with three effective branches of government, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers.
We are up against mighty forces of power from a media machine that has been built for 30 years while our side has given close to zero. Not only the unprecedented apparatus of partisan Government media power. Not only supplicant television so extreme that even a publicly traded network, using publicly owned airwaves, promotes a propaganda film weeks before a historic election.
According to various reports, one conservative financier alone, Richard Mellon Scaife, has given over a billion dollars worth of support to the right-wing media machine. As much as we dislike his methods, Mr. Scaife has every right to exercise his freedoms for his cause. Give a billion bucks, and we have a one-party progressive government. Give a paltry $25 million, targeted to our media infrastructure, and we end today's one-party state in a few short weeks.
This is crystal clear: the President and his Administration have a war-fever mentality that is unprecedented in American history.
It is true: they are using the fear argument of World War III to seek to win yet another election.
But this is more true, and more dangerous: the President and the Vice-President believe it, and will do it. Along with Karl Rove their ambition is so vast that it is nothing less than a Manifest Destiny for the Republican Party, and their vision of centralized statist power, concentrating total power in the hands of one faction, of one party, ruled by one person.
Far too much attention is being given to the tactics, polemics, strategies and maneuverings of the election, and far too little attention to the enormous and potentially catastrophic stakes for America and the world, if we lose it.
One of the most ominous and alarming statistics in the history of the American Democracy is that close to half our people actually believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. This is ghoulish proof of the power of the lie to overwhelm the truth. Stunning proof of the power of the right-wing media machine and the total failure of every form of the media to inform the public. And Exhibit A of the urgency of fast-forwarding the power of our side to communicate our message of fact and truth.
If the Republicans maintain control of both houses of Congress, there will be more winds of war, more distortions of intelligence, more creations of fear, more push for new war, and either pre-emptive military attack in advance of the inevitable approval of the Republican Congress, or a force-fed resolution for war, given inevitable approval by the Republican Congress.
In Vietnam, the war decision was made regardless of the election, by the Congress. In Iraq, the war decision was made before the election, by the Congress. For the next war, the decision will be made before the election, by the VOTERS.
Here is how the Republicans play the game, and do not believe those who claim that Karl Rove's influence has declined in Washington. That happens to be the organized Republican spin, as part of a distancing strategy until November, repeated by those who know zero about how Washington under Bush works.
Karl Rove is the second most powerful man in Washington and will remain so, until the President leaves office. Period. End of discussion. Anyone who says otherwise, whether they are spinning Republicans, naive Democrats, or journalistic courtiers, is either deceptive or ignorant. Period.
Understand: Karl Rove is the single most brilliant political strategist and operative of our generation, from either party, by far. I have seen him operate in Texas and nationally for well over a decade, and we should view him as a mortal political adversary with a vision of permanent one-party domination and a willingness to do ANYTHING to achieve it. But do not underestimate his brilliance or power.
What Rove is whispering in Republican ears today, is this: distance from the President as much as necessary before the election, so long as you are with him, after the election. Before the election they will wiggle, waddle, and waffle their way distancing from Bush. As sure as the sun rises in the East: the day after the election, they are right back on the team.
We want a check and balance against unwise war. They will again plunge the dagger in the heart of Congressional oversight, and blow with the winds of war as Members of the team.
As sure as the sun rises in the East, if the Republicans continue one-party control in Washington there will be leaks of frightening and scary information dutifully reported by the networks, hyped by the talkies on cable, fueled by partisan releases from Intelligence Committees, pumped by the right-wing media machine, and supported by the Chris Shays Republicans.
In this scenario: there will be zero oversight from Congress. Zero exercise of congressional war powers or spending authority. Zero honest investigation of abuses. And all-out war for a Supreme Court majority that will leave America with only one branch of government, controlled by one political party, dominated by one extreme faction, ruled by the President and Vice-President.
Therefore: the moral, legal, and effective Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and Iraq War Resolution, will not be voted on by the next Congress, but by the voters who will choose the next Congress, and make the result inevitable, one way or the other, from the moment the votes are counted.
Therefore, the rally cry: it is time to move beyond our grievances to a new era of empowerment and to an unprecedented mobilization of progressives, moderates, independents to fight for and win a true revitalization of democracy in America, and a true revival of a two-party system, with three branches of government.
Make no mistake about the importance of the Disney fight. They won a minor victory, reminding the nation of Monica Lewinsky and repeating their attack points through a propaganda enterprise from a television network. It is profoundly dangerous, radical and ominous that a major network could so aggressively corrupt a moment as profound as the five-year commemoration of 9/11, with a propaganda film that used falsehoods to promote the attack talking points of a partisan party, literally quoting oppo research papers, at times verbatim.
But we won a far larger and far more profound victory. We won the battle of ideas on this matter. Scholastic moved to our column. Disney and the Right were on the defensive. The docu-propaganda was discredited. We created an ad hoc media and information power structure that beat their power structure, in our Lexington and Concord.
The colonists joined the fight. The Redcoats were in retreat. The way we win was shown with crystal clarity. The hyper-power for the Loyal Opposition, that speaks for the majority of America, is the unity and integration of radio and the grassroots, the combined force of Air America joined with our blogosphere, super-empowered by a justifiably outraged and energized President Clinton.
The Republican and conservative media, message and information power structure is decades ahead of ours, built, financed and promoted by a far more committed corps of billionaires and millionaires than anything on our side.
The super-wealthy of the Republican Right fight harder and invest with far more aggression and vision than anything from their Democratic and progressive counterparts.
What happened in the Disney fight was truly extraordinary and I predict historic. What began as a grassroots protest began to spread; virtually every Air America host joined the fight in full force, blasting away 24/7 and giving voice to those of us (myself included) issuing the rally cry. Bill Clinton then weighed in with the full force and power of a former President speaking the truth, with more moral authority than the incumbent partisan President.
Every force on our side was acting in unison; committed, forceful, aggressive, clear, and convincing with a full blast media and message machine that rose ad hoc, and beat them at their own game, on our terms.
It was spectacular.
The election that will determine war and peace, and the heart and soul of American democracy, is fast approaching.
An unprecedented barrage of attacks and smears, financed by the forces of the one-party state and their Armada of media power, is on the brink of being launched.
The stakes are enormous and indescribable. The way to win is now clear. The mission is now certain. The strategy is right before us, proven by our ad hoc army of media and communication that won the battle of ideas in the discredited docu-smear by Disney.
What I urge, propose, implore and call for is an urgent summit of the financial leaders of the Democratic and progressive community, supported by President Clinton, President Carter, and Vice-President Gore to finance an emergency infusion of $25 million into Air America, the progressive blogoshere, and African-American, Hispanic and Labor groups to combine a massive communications assault with a massive voting power assault for the closing weeks of this historic campaign.
I come from the JFK, Kenny O'Donnell school of politics and we are in the fight of our lives and it is time fight hard, and fight to win.
It is time to be deadly serious and understand the full magnitude of the coming assault that will soon be launched against us, and the ominous and deadly consequences if they prevail again.
It is time to do what the financiers for the one-party state have been doing for 30 years.
It is time to put real money, real muscle and real power behind the fight for real democracy and the real America.
It is time to man the barricades, with a sense of urgency and passion, with an immediacy and power equal to the magnitude of the forces we are up against, the unprecedented attack that is hours from beginning, and the extreme consequences of two more years of one-party rule.
It is time to cut the cards, cut the crap, cut through the niceties, and play to win.
To the wealthiest 500 Democrats in the land: we the people of the United States are issuing a rally cry for you to join us, and any one of you has the power, by standing with us, to change the course of history.
Their machine is 30 years in the making, with countless billions behind them. Ours is new, almost unsupported by the money on our side but armed for battle, empowered by our numbers, driven by our convictions, suited up for combat, strengthened by our idealism, lifted by our passion, and ready to win.
Join us, and the Armada of one-party rule will be defeated by the real voices, of the real America.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen on intelligence issues, and served as Legislative Director to Rep. Bill Alexander when he was Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Leadership. Budowsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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