Stealing the Midterms and the Power of Myth
By Mike Whitney
Clearing House" -- -- “The masses have never thirsted after
truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their
master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always
their victim”. Gustave Le Bon;”The Crowd”
Karl Rove is not Harry Houdini. He can’t change the fact that
the Democrats could take up to 40 seats in the House and that
the Republicans may lose the Senate as well. He can’t change the
national polling-data which favors the Democrats by a
considerable margin, or the exit polling which is predicted to
show substantial Democratic gains too. And, there’s nothing Rove
can do to stop the perception that the elections are now
expected to be a Democratic landslide extending from sea to
shining sea. The only thing that Rove can do to win the midterms
is to purge the voting roles in key states and crank up the
voting machines to “full-tilt”.
But even that won’t be enough this time.
The problem with that strategy is that it will only increase the
suspicion that the elections have been rigged. Given the current
projections, any massive voter tampering is likely to trigger a
public outcry that will inevitably result in an investigation.
That’s not what Rove or any of the Bush team wants.
So what is Rove supposed to do?
One thing is certain; he won’t play by the rules. He’ll have to
fabricate story which will explain why, at the very last minute,
the majority of Americans switched their vote to Republican and
changed the outcome election.
What else can he do?
That proved to be quite easy in 2004 because Rove had the entire
corporate media standing behind his cockamamie story that 3 or 4
million fundamentalists, who had never voted before in a general
election, suddenly poured down from the mountains to cast their
ballot for their champion, George Bush. This absurd narrative
was spouted from every media-soapbox in the nation until it was
generally accepted as fact. The media then proceeded to quash
any investigation of the massive voter fraud which took place
across the country (particularly in Ohio) while discrediting
critics as conspiracy theorists.
It worked like a charm.
But things have changed since 2004 and there are signs that a
growing number of elites now realize that Bush’s “stay the
course” strategy in Iraq is bound to fail and they’re looking
for different leadership. That explains the deluge of bad news
pouring down on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave like a Burmese monsoon.
Most of the scandals; the National Intelligent Estimate (NIE),
Woodward’s Book, and the increased media focus on Iraq, and the
Foley escapades, have all been timed to coincide with the
upcoming elections in order to sabotage any chance of a
For example, on Sunday ABC ran a 12 minute segment on Iraq
complete with smoldering vehicles, wailing Iraqi women, and
bloody children screaming in the Baghdad hospital.
When was the last time we saw coverage like that from the
What we are seeing is a concerted effort by disgruntled
plutocrats to take back the country from the fanatics in the
White House. The divisions in the American ruling class have
never been greater and the rash of scandals indicates that the
fighting is quickly escalating into open warfare. This combat
will only get more ferocious until Nov 7.
Rove faces a daunting task, although it’s not insurmountable.
The problem is that he has very few options. We know from
experience that he will probably invent a fictional story that
can be used to explain results that would otherwise seem
unbelievable. This strategy has been used many times before and
has worked with every application.
In the Orwellian world of make-believe; the narrative is
everything. Invent a good story, run it through the ministry of
truth (the media) and stick to it no matter how ridiculous it
may sound. After all, if the media can shift the national debate
from the war in Iraq, Social Security, and the enormous federal
deficits to 14 weepy fundamentalists waving signs in front of a
hospice in Florida where a brain-dead patient is being kept
alive against her will; anything is possible.
In researching the Bush administration’s manipulation of public
perceptions, I came across an interesting summary of the State
Department’s Philip Zelikow, who was Executive Director on the
9-11 Commission, that greatest of all charades. According to
“Prof. Zelikow’s area of academic expertise is the creation and
maintenance of, in his words, ‘public myths’ or ‘public
presumptions’ which he defines as ‘beliefs (1) thought to be
true ( although not necessarily known with certainty) and (2)
shared in common within the relevant political community.’ In
his academic work and elsewhere he has taken a special interest
in what he has called ‘searing’ or ‘molding’ events (that) take
on transcendent’ importance and therefore retain their power
even as the experiencing generation passes from the scene….He
has noted that ‘a history’s narrative power is typically linked
to how readers relate to the actions of individuals in the
history; if readers cannot make the connection to their own
lives, then a history may fail to engage them at all.”
(“Thinking about Political History” Miller center Report, winter
1999, p 5-7)
Isn’t that the same as saying there is neither history nor
truth; that what is really important is the manipulation of
epochal events so they serve the interests of society’s
managers? Thus, it follows that if the government can create
their own “galvanizing events”, then they can write history any
way they choose.
If that’s the case, then perhaps the entire war on terror is cut
from whole cloth; a garish public relations maneuver devoid of
Wikipedia adds this about Zelikow which may help to clarify this
“In the Nov-Dec 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs he (Zelikow)
co-authored (with the former head of the CIA) an article
entitled “Catastrophic Terrorism” in which he speculated that if
the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center had succeeded ‘the
resulting horror and chaos would have exceeded our ability to
describe it. Such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a
watershed event in American history. It could involve loss of
life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine
America’s fundamental sense of security, as did the Soviet
atomic bomb test in 1949. Like Pearl Harbor, the event would
divide our past and future into a before and after. The United
States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil
liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of
suspects and use of deadly force.”
That was written in 1998!?!
Amazing. It is almost like Zelikow knew what was going to happen
on 9-11 and was drawing attention to the “draconian measures”
(scaling back civil liberties) which may seem attractive to
elites in the policy establishment.
Now, coincidentally, everything has evolved just as Zelikow
predicted. Just like Pearl Harbor, 9-11 has “divided our past
and future into a before and after”. The post-9-11 world relates
to a world in which personal liberty is no longer protected, and
where surveillance, detention and the use of deadly force are
all permitted. It is a world in which “America’s fundamental
sense of security” has been shattered and will continue to be
shattered as a way of managing public opinion.
As Zelikow presciently implies, the post 9-11 world depends
entirely on “public myths”; fairy tales invented by society’s
supervisors which perpetuate the illusion of democracy, freedom
and the rule of law.
So, how does this apply to Karl Rove?
There are only two weapons in the imperial tool-chest; force and
deception. I expect that the anticipated Democratic landslide
will be preempted by massive voter fraud accompanied by some
type of “searing event”; that way the fantastical outcome of a
GOP victory can be neatly folded into a larger and all-pervasive
As we have been reminded many times: Reality no longer matters;
only the perception of reality. The power of myth reigns
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