How the Grinch
© Jack Cashill
A few weeks ago I was taking a walk through Blue-ville, the pleasant little university neighborhood in Kansas City where I live, when I espied from a distance two of my truest and Bluest friends.
Unusual for them, highly unusual, they had grins on their faces and a spring in their step. If these habitually dour folks were smiling I knew that every mother-loving Blue down in Blue-ville had to be smiling, and I knew why: the Grinch had finally taken a powder--and not a moment too soon.
It had been six long years. I remember well the night of the Grinch’s descent. An unholy ruckus roused me from my slumber. Looking out my window, I saw two of my gay neighbors, true Blues both, standing in their front yard full of Gore-Lieberman signs shrieking and wailing. I don’t mean this metaphorically. Metaphors don’t wake people up.
“Good news,” I guessed as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and flicked on the TV. I was right. The Supreme Court had finally put an end to the nonsense in Florida and called the election for the guy with the most votes.
Always the opportunist, the Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea. He swooped down into Blue-ville and started whispering unsweetened nothings into the ears of the disheartened Blues, “You wuz robbed.” No matter how many times the votes were counted or who counted them—and the results were always the same—the Grinch was there to reassure the Blues that they had been bamboozled anew.
9-11 spooked the Grinch, and for a month or two he disappeared. But soon enough, the Grinchster was back to his old tricks. The harmony vanished, and the world of difference returned. Now, however, the disharmony was not just un-neighborly. It was downright unsafe. The country was at war.
This was all grist for the Grinch’s mischief mill. He slithered his way under Blueville’s defenses and slunk deeper still into its collective psyche, “You’ve been buffaloed,” he reassured the Blues. “You’ve been betrayed.”
Soon enough, Blue-ville began to revel in its own status as bunco victim, glory in it even. Never has a people this self-avowedly bright taken such a perverse pride in their penchant for being duped. Everything was a trick, a scam, a lie. The Blues began to believe that it wasn’t their war, wasn’t their country really—in the truest Blue-villes, you could count the American flags on a finger—and it sure as hell wasn’t their president.
To be sure, not everyone in a given Blue-ville is Blue. Like others, I married into my Blue-ville. Normally tolerant of minorities—and a bit too proud of their tolerance—the Blues began to cold shoulder the non-Blues in their midst, me included. The invites shriveled. The insults mounted.
“You still one of the 32 percent?” a law professor neighbor scowled at me in passing one day without so much a how-dee-do.
“You know, Truman left office with a 23 percent approval rating,” I answered, catching his drift, “and we built him a museum and named the ballparks after him. A college too!”
“Yea, maybe,” sneered my neighbor, “but your president’s stupid.”
I didn’t see much of an opening there. The Grinch had sour-talked the Blues into a pristine state of pique. They would hear nothing that chipped away at its paranoid perfection.
One day, I was out hawking my book on cultural and intellectual fraud, Hoodwinked, on our Radio Free Blue-ville outpost of the larger Blue network better known as NPR. Before the show, I wrote down the first question I would be asked by the call-in audience.
"I am surprised,” said the first caller in a Grinchy snit, “that you didn't mention one of the best known hoodwinkers, FOX News.”
“Why FOX News?” I asked innocently.
They helped your president trick the nation into thinking that Saddam had WMDs.” I had to smile. This is what I had written down. I was prepared.
"Speaking of hoodwinkers," I countered, "have you read Richard Butler’s The Greatest Threat?” He had not of course. Head honcho of the UN’s weapons search effort, the Aussie Butler knew more about Saddam's WMDs than Saddam. A leftist and literal Blue Helmet, Butler had little reason to put one over on Blue-ville. Yet after being booted from Iraq, I explained, all Butler could say of Saddam’s no-WDM plea was that it was "the blackest lie."
"Has Richard Butler hoodwinked the nation?" I asked. “Of course not.” In fact, every serious intelligence agency in the world felt the same. But so keen was Blue-ville on feeling conned that its media have refused to even look for the missing WMDs. (I will be happy to point them in the right direction.)
As to why “Bush lied, and people died,” the ever clever Grinch customized answers to fit just about everyone’s particular pout: oil, Halliburton, re-election, avenging daddy, and that old standby, the Jews, deftly repackaged to preserve Blue high-mindedness as “Zionists” or “neo-cons.”
And that is not the only “lie” in which Blue-ville wallowed. The Grinch managed to convince Blue-ville that before the “invasion” Iraq was a kite-flying Eden about as menacing as Iowa. Old Uncle Saddam would have nothing to do with Old Uncle Osama. Or was it Osama who would have nothing to do with Saddam? Whatever.
True, Blue-ville didn’t always see the Osama-Saddam thing as a flim-flam. In 1998, President Clinton warned of “the very kind of threat Iraq poses now—a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists.” Six days later, Osama bin Laden signaled that he just might have been just the terrorist Clinton had in mind. He issued a fatwah “to kill all Americans” based in no small part on America’s “continuing aggression against the Iraqi people.”
In the spring of 1998 the Clinton Justice responded by indicting Osama, claiming “that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq.” Always obliging, the Grinch has helped Blue-ville media flush this info down what Mr. Orwell smartly called “the memory hole.”
But that was then. This is now. The Blues are smiling again. When I talked to my happy Blue friends a few weeks ago, they waited until the second sentence to rag me about the recent elections.
“There’s a silver lining,” I told them. “What?” they asked incredulously. “You’re engaged again.” I said. “I hate to admit it, but we need you. We can’t win this war with our left hand tied behind our back.”
I chose not to say that our left hand couldn’t bring itself to pull a trigger unless perhaps the enemy was a paparazzi. Still, that hand does control the toggle switches and zoom lenses and keyboards of the western world’s media, and it sure would be nice if it were not actively stroking the enemy.
Although America has avoided a terrorist attack anywhere in the world beyond Iraq and Afghanistan these past five years —and supreme Christmas thanks to those who have suffered or died that this should be so--the war against radical Islam is no more “fictitious” than Michael Moore’s gut. And it is not going away in the near future.
When we abandoned Vietnam, the little Hos—and I don’t mean the skanky ones at the tunnel entrance--didn’t follow us home. The little Osamas will. As I told my friends, I was glad to have them back in the game. I was being serious, and they could see it. They listened. The Grinch was not pleased.
But he ain’t giving up.
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