There are no accidents around here *

I have a friend from my “original” college days that I still hear from via e-mail occasionally. He used to send me a lot of thos “political humor e-mails” that make the rounds, but as his politics are what I would call “Rush O’Reilly Conservatism”, I asked him to give me a pass on those. I was clear that it was only the political stuff I wanted a pass on, because I didn’t appreciate that particular vein. I still get stuff from him several times a year, as opposed to the original several times a week.

Before the Super Bowl this year, I got an e-mail from him that was making the rounds. It is reproduced, in part, below.

In honor of the Chicago Bears going to Super Bowl 41. Here are 41 things
that have changed from the last time the Chicago Bears played in the Super
Bowl (which was Super Bowl 20 in 1986):

1. Brian Urlacher was in 2nd grade. Rex Grossman was in kindergarten.

2. Peyton Manning was 10 years old. Eli Manning was 5 years old.  Their dad,
Archie, had just retired from the NFL two years earlier.

3. Lovie Smith was in his first college coaching job at University of Tulsa.

4. Ronald Reagan was the President, and Harold Washington was the Mayor.
James R. Thompson was the Governor running for re-election and his office
was in the new State of Illinois Center, which is now called the James R.
Thompson Center.

5. George W. Bush was 39 years old and still drinking. His father would run
for President two years later.

6. Rod Blagojevich was just out of law school and was a low-level prosecutor
working for the Cook County State’s Attorney, Richard M. Daley.

7. Barack Obama had just moved to Illinois, and Osama bin Laden was fighting
the Soviets in Afghanistan.

(sound of needle skidding across grooves)

What’s that? Exactly what does Barack Obama moving to Illinois have to do with Osama? What does Afghanistan have to do with Barack?

I wrote to my friend. I asked if he had noticed that, and what he thought of it. He hasn’t answered. He’s probably embarrassed that he sent it to me. He was thinking of me only as a Bears fan at that moment, I’m sure.

I dug it out of my e-mail archives after reading Paula’s post entitled “Stupid Like a Fox”. It talks about the President of Fox (not to be confused with fellow douche President Vincente Fox) making a joke that connected Osama and Obama, and the fallout of that. Of course, Fox is playing the event down considerably. I’m not surprised, because I don’t for one second believe that it was an accident.

This has been happening since the very second it became apparent that Barack Obama could run for President. That first week there were several instances of the Osama/Obama “mistake”, all followed by the requisite blushing “oops”.  It STILL happens, evidently, and isn’t always coming from the news agencies. It is not just an occasional error, or a lapse in judgement. It is a strategy, and it has worked in the past.

Remember the way the supposedly liberal media repeatedly connected the words “Iraq” and “WMD”? It made the case for war, but it also crept into a lot of psyches that won’t let it go. I still talk to people who believe that Sadaam had those nukes, and hid them really really well. Despite a complete lack of evidence to support it, they believe. Remember how Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, every news personality, and every other politician and pundit that could get a little airtime said the words “Sadaam” and “9/11” as close together as they could? Remember that as we went into Iraq about 40% of the nation actually believed that Sadaam helped plan and execute the attack?

Let’s face it, the vast majority of Americans don’t bother with research into current events. They don’t take care to get multiple opinions. They half-listen to whatever is fed them at the moment. If they hear or see the words “Obama” and “Osama” near each other enough times, they will be connected in their minds. The public’s feelings about Osama will become connected to the picture of Obama, if enough people see their names connected enough times in enough different places. It’s Advertising 101. If you see the words “Coke” and “refreshing” next to each other enough times, you just might make that connection  when you’re standing in front of that cooler dripping with sweat.

Of course, it’s protected as free speech. Americans only balk at free speech when someone says something inconvenient of hurtful. We’re much more tolerant of speech that is patently untrue. As long as you leave the name-calling at home, feel free to lie as much as you want.

It’s tempting to take comfort in the feeling that American politics can’t sink much further into the mud. That the tactics cannot possibly become more childish and divisive. Very tempting.

But it just rings untrue.

* thanks to peter gabriel

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15 Comments

  1. Great post. ITA with the subliminal aspect of it – the whole thing is character assassination with the excuse of “hey, it wuz just a JOKE!”

  2. Much ado about nothing, really. If the “joke” had come from anyone else, it would have been perceived as a jab at President Bush (he’s too stupid to remember which is Obama and which is Osama, or somesuch.)

    The rest is typical bullshit political puffery, typical of the hardcore right, and typical of the leftyloons of Moveon.org.

    It’s an eye roller for sure. The response, I mean.

  3. Jay Leno doesn’t bill himself as any sort of news, let alone “fair and balanced.” It’s not the same thing. The whole Obama/madrassa thing was digraceful — Dan Rather lost his job because he reported something before the facts were in. If Fox really was a fair and balanced news source, this absolutely would be much ado. But their track record proves otherwise.

  4. Hey, at least the email didn’t say that Osama had just moved to Illinois, and Obama was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    Seriously though, cheers for alerting me to this surrepticious conflating of ‘the two Os’… I definitely wouldn’t put it past certain elements within the ‘liberal’ media to do this, and will be looking out for it in future.

  5. I love the Daily Show bit that lampoons the whole O-O affair. “Well John, while osama people believe that he is subject to al-qaeda problems with this…”

    And you’ve got another keeper:

    Americans only balk at free speech when someone says something inconvenient or hurtful. We’re much more tolerant of speech that is patently untrue.

  6. i feel bad for obama. it’s really unfortunate that his name would be so close to osama’s!

  7. Maybe those people who are getting upset about it should remember that “God” sounds like “”fraud.” Poor God!

  8. You mean Fox came out & did something right wing? And then pretended it was no big deal? I’m shocked. I think their company motto is, “It’s better to ask forgiveness than think our way through anything or fact check or keep our opinions to ourselves.” Or something like that.

  9. My point is, it isn’t just Fox. It’s the so-called “liberal” media as well, and plain folks with e-mail addresses.

  10. Nice Family Snapshot reference, dude.

    Ook ook

  11. Fez-

    It’s from “Lay Your Hands On Me.”

  12. Dang!

    Now I feel dumb.

  13. Sorry, bro.

  14. Completely unrelated: Check this shit out, Joe — it’s going to be too fun!

  15. Maybe those people who are getting upset about it should remember that “God” sounds like “”fraud.” Poor God!

    Too funny, nat! Though I’m trying to decide if you mean in Brwoooklyn or Bahstin.


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