In U.S. politics, it’s quite often that old adages are proven true. Today, there’s a twist: “if you can’t beat ’em, join’ em” no longer cuts it. Instead, the Republican Governors Association figures if you can’t beat ’em, don’t join ’em, but do hire an ad firm to pretend you have …
That’s apparently true even if it means embracing what was once criticized by other conservatives as “pro-terrorist, neo-Marxist propaganda.”
For this batch of Republican governors who peg themselves as “the key to a GOP Comeback”, it’s not really a big deal to co-opt themes from metaphorical anti-Bush film “V for Vendetta,” though chances are they completely miss the irony.
A futuristic tale about a British terrorist who wages bloody vengeance against a fascist dictatorship, “V for Vendetta” follows the downfall of a merciless regime that seized control following rampant escalation of war in Iraq and a deadly viral outbreak. Needless to say, Republicans enraptured by President Bush’s terror war weren’t so happy about the film when it came out.
Right-wing conspiracy site WorldNetDaily called the film, “a vile, pro-terrorist piece of neo-Marxist, left-wing propaganda filled with radical sexual politics and nasty attacks on religion and Christianity.”
And now, the Republican Governors Association wants voters to “remember, remember the 5th of November.” They’ve even launched a Web site — remembernovember.com — to that very effect.
Such a move would have been unheard of at the film’s release in 2006, when filmmakers the Wachowski brothers were widely criticized by Republicans and right-wing pundits for promoting a terrorist as its protagonist. To anti-Bush Americans, the film’s narrative — of a tyrannical government that attacked its own people then sanctioned torture and indefinite detention, a television network that spews nothing but administration propaganda, a political pundit with a striking parallel to Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly and the flawed-yet-sympathetic man who brings the system down with the help of a beautiful young girl — seemingly combined to make the motion picture a cause cÃƒÂ©lÃƒÂ¨bre of dissenters.
“The whole movie, in fact, is a thinly veiled attack on the War on Terror now being waged by Prime Minister Tony Blair in Great Britain and President George W. Bush in the United States,” WND’s Ted Baehr wrote. “The movie’s story was actually updated from a graphic novel that attacked the conservative administration of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, one of the greatest political leaders of the 20th century.”
The picture and its factual basis in the Guy Fawkes story eventually became a rallying cry for supporters of Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), who turned in an astonishing $4.07 million for the presidential candidate on Nov. 5, 2007. However, as with the tea parties, also created by Paul’s supporters, old-guard Republicans and neoconservatives came to see Paul’s campaign model as both a threat and an opportunity, then seized upon it.
While usurping Paul’s fundraising model and using it to support insurance firms during the health reform debate is certainly brazen, Republican governors attempting to co-opt “V for Vendetta” and Paul supporters’ use of Guy Fawkes is a new low.
The group also produced a very slickly edited piece of video activism that seems to pin responsibility of America’s financial woes on Obama, then attempts to use the president’s campaign theme of “change” against him.
“The politics and substance aside, this strikes me as a remarkable bit of political messaging, not just for its cinematic quality,” Time‘s Michael Scherer commented. “The RGA, under the control of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, is clearly stepping out of the stodgy, safe territory it normally inhabits. It is aiming to tap into the vast well of anti-government fury now coursing through the nation. Who would have guessed that Barbour would embrace the symbolic value of the same would-be mass murderer as the Wachowski brothers?”
Since President Obama took office, Republicans have attempted to color his presidency with the devastating economic effects of the Bush administration. It isn’t working. Though two-thirds of GOP voters blame Obama for the poor economy according to Rasmussen, Gallup’s numbers show that the vast majority of Americans clearly recall the so-called “Great Recession” began in earnest under President Bush.
“Theoretically, Obama accumulates more responsibility for the nation’s economy every day he’s in office,” Gallup noted. “That could bear down increasingly hard on his approval rating if unemployment continues to hold at or near 10% and consumer attitudes remain negative. However, the big upside is that should the economy rebound on his watch — and recent Gallup tracking has someÃ‚Â signs of a “nascent” recovery — Obama is poised to receive much of the credit.”
This video was produced by the Republican Governors Association.