politics, let's dance By Pepe Escobar
Forget Ohio. Forget the mathematics. Forget all
the lawyers. By any measure, in terms of direct - not
indirect, Electoral College democracy - George W Bush
has won this referendum. A president who was never above
a 50% approval rate in the past few months, who lost all
three debates with challenger Senator John Kerry, but
now has a majority of almost 4 million in the popular
vote, has in fact won the referendum on himself.
Fasten your seat belts: it's going to be a
bumpy ride. Control of the presidency, Senate, House.
A popular mandate. Four more years. Possibly four
more wars. In a nutshell, chief strategist Karl Rove got
the evangelicals out in force. According to a series
of Gallup polls, 42% of Americans declare themselves
evangelicals or born-again Christians. Bush always had a
head start of 42%.
The widely sung-and-danced-to youth
vote never materialized. The 18-to-29 generation voted
in exactly the same numbers as in 2000: first-time voters
- a pro-Kerry majority, worried about the economy and
the war on Iraq - were only 10% of the electorate. The
30-to-44 group was even more scarce. So much for great
expectations. An army of Democrats, an army of pollsters
and even a few Republicans made fools of themselves.
The youth vote meant, in essence, "damn
politics, let's dance".
The exit polls were all
horribly wrong. The blogosphere was basically calling a
Kerry victory as soon as the polls closed. A Harris poll
was also predicting Kerry. The exits had Kerry leading
Bush among men by 51%-49%, and among women by 53%-47%.
The final exits for Ohio had Kerry winning 52%-48%.
Blogger Kevin Drum was saying that "in a way it's the
ultimate in navel gazing. The bloggers all read the
media and the media call bloggers to find out what
Then the blogosphere went
dead for an hour, an hour and a half, two hours - as if the
virtual world was trying to absorb the avalanche of red
states and the news from Florida and the nail-biting
Ohio crawl. There was widespread talk that the
Republicans were trying everything to steal the election
in the courts, trying to get the courts to stop voting
while people were already in line when the polls closed,
trying for a ruling against provisional ballots.
Desperate Democrats started spinning that
provisional ballots in Ohio would decide everything. It
would take at least 11 days, according to the Ohio state
secretary. All this while Bush's lead in Ohio was
PNAC's program The United
States may have gone to the polls as a divided, uncertain,
paralyzed-by-fear nation. Today it's still a divided,
uncertain, paralyzed-by-fear nation, but now with a
clear mandate for the state really to rock the
The "most important election
of a lifetime" has sent a clear message to the whole
world: the face of America in the next four years -
barring a Richard Nixon-style impeachment - will be of
unilateralism, the "war on terror" possibly
progressively escalating into a clash of civilizations.
And pay attention to the "axis of evil" hit list - the
official and the bootleg. Bush II will attack what it
defines as "state terrorism" - Iran, Syria - instead of
the global jihadi network. It will continue to rely on
Pakistan to "decapitate" the odd "high-value al-Qaeda".
It won't engage in diplomacy to address the political
causes of terrorism. It won't engage in a cultural and
ideological effort to try to counteract the global jihad
- especially now that Osama bin Laden and his deputy
Ayman al-Zawahiri have changed the rules of the
asymmetrical game from a religious clash to a political
struggle against imperialism.
concentration of right-wing power - legitimized by the
popular vote: this is the new neo-conservative dream
turned reality. So the road ahead is to flatten the
Sunni stronghold of Fallujah in Iraq, bomb Iran because
of its supposed nuclear aspirations, depose President
Hafez Assad in Syria, crush the Palestinian resistance,
and remodel the Middle East by "precision strike"
There will be serious blowback. A new
pan-Islamic nationalism, for example, featuring
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's Shi'ite masses allied with
the Sunni triangle to kick out the Americans from Iraq,
eventually supported by both Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iraq
crisscrossed by guerrillas and Iran penetrated by US
intelligence, both leading - plus Shi'ite eastern Saudi
Arabia, where the oil is - to a new, catastrophic oil
And then the neo-conservative Project for
the New American Century (PNAC) - which virtually took
over the US government - will create a major
confrontation with China. Asia, beware.
faith-based, apocalyptic evangelicals have won this
battle against the "reality community". Bush won despite
Tora Bora, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib. The crusade
continues. In God we trust - and also in Osama bin
Laden. He got exactly what he wanted.
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