The Bush Administration fired its opening salvo in the coming Congression election war yesterday. Most liberal pundits seem to have completely missed this, judging by what I have seen and read in the intervening 24 hours. The two shots were seemingly disparate, yet they are as closely connected as Karl Rove and treachery. So take notice, boyz and goilz: these mindtricks are the ones that are going to kill the Democrats at the ballot box this November if people aren’t extremely careful -- and vocal.
First came the Administration’s revisions to the military rules of interrogation. Electrocution, hoods, sexual perversion, and the usual suspects of Abu Ghraib are now officially out when it comes to the Armed Forces. This is nothing more than an attempt to placate those vital middle-of-the-road voters who are sickened and shocked that our government would do such things. By making these revisions, the subconscious message is: “We’ve learned our lesson.” It’s meant to impress a sense of responsibility by the Administration. They’ve done their homework and know that torture is revolting to swing voters. The new guidelines let Republican candidates tell their voters that the Party believes in the Geneva Convention even as the Administration keeps the CIA free to do whatever it wants.
Hand-in-hand is the confession about the secret CIA prisons that have been used by the Bush troopers as torture warehouses. The Administration has steadfastly denied their existence all along, and so have all the host countries where the prisons are located. Again, this tactic is designed to subconsiously ameliorate any lingering disgust that swing voters have about the malignancies of the Republican party and its unabashed support for whatever the Administration sees as necessary in the ongoing war on terrorism. Without explicitly saying so, the Administration is telling voters, “We’ve learned from our mistakes and will be more honorable in the future. You can believe in us.”
The final part of the plan is the handoff of Iraq’s military from U.S. control to the new Iraqi civilian government. People are sick and tired of the war in Iraq. Everyone wants their sons and daughters home as soon as possible. The Administration has waffled several times on when the troops are to be withdrawn. The universal answer has been “when the Iraqis can stand on their own.” By switching control of the military, Team Bush can claim substantial progress in Iraqi governmental independence and announce that this progress heralds the withdrawal of our troops, without actually naming a timetable for that withdrawal. Thus, voters get the optimistic sense that the Iraqis won’t need our soldiers over there to hold the country together now that they have their own military and control over it. This sense of hopefulness about the war’s end will garner support across the board.
It’s no secret that the Republican strategy for the coming mid-term elections is to focus on security. By going beyond the failed themes of “staying the course” and “peace through power,” and subtly apologizing for past misdeeds by recognizing them, Republicans have caught liberals off-guard. The response to this red herring has been predictable: Stanford law professors on television proclaiming that the admissions don’t go far enough in accepting responsibility, pundits saying “too little, too late,” and Fox News beaming about the president’s new sense of responsibility. Meanwhile, the overall strategic effect is being completely ignored. So far, Republican strategists have won this point.
A critical element of psychological manipulation is to keep the subjects of that manipulation from feeling like they are being manipulated. Subtle measures that touch on powerful feelings are most effective. Republican strategists have proven their mastery of this over the last two elections. These recent admissions and announcements regarding torture, secret prisons, and progress in the Iraqi military are intended to condition voters’ minds by stroking our forheads and putting us at ease. It’s a softball approach to achieving a hardcore result. If the media and Democratic candidates don’t pick up on this and counter it, Republicans will emerge victorious on Election Day.
The Adminstration’s track record of lies and deceit should never be forgotten or understimated. Their party’s willingness to use these tactics should be common knowledge by now, but people tend to forget rather quickly. They’re more easily overwhelmed with other more viceral distractions, and the PsyOps consultants used by the RNC know this all too well. They know how you think. They know how to make you think. The only real hope for us is to filter their programming and disarm their mental assault.
Politics is a chess game that moves 24 hours per day. Strategists think from miles out and employ an array of contingent plans that capitalize on daily events. The opening moves have been made. We are two months from voting. Get with it, people. It falls to all of you to not only consider what is happening and how our nation is being strung along, but to talk about it amongst yourselves and get the word out by every available means. Slience equals death, now more than ever. If we beat the Republicans for control of voters’ minds, victory at the ballot box will follow.