Columns » Bob Lancaster

Autooptimism

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Let me say this at the start. I don't like using ugly words and would avoid them here if I could do so conscientiously. It's embarrassing. I have children and grandchildren. What's my Sunday school class going to think? Although my mother is long gone, I'd still bite my tongue before offending her, and indelicate language was one of the surefire ways to do that. (She was a great mom and I hope you'll pardon me if I steal this opportunity to give her a shout-out. Hey, Polly, how's it going there where you are? We love you and miss you, wish you were here, but I'd better get back to my task, to my rat killing, as you used to say.) Anyhow, I noticed this past week that the president seems to have found his election campaign theme. It's that he's an optimist and everybody that's agin him is a pessimist. Optimism is a good thing, people like it and identify with it because it's infectious; it rubs off. It gives them hope, lets them greet each new day with a big smile. Pessimism, on the other hand, doesn't accomplish anything and only brings everybody down. Why listen to these Gloom-and-Doomers, as the president calls them? Why even consider voting for them? The president serendipitously found this keep-on-the-sunny-side theme in the Reagan funeral rhetoric, and I think the vice president might have supplied the second part of the '04 Bush-Cheney campaign theme -- the subtheme, perhaps -- when he told that pessimist Vermont senator recently to go fuck himself. (That's the nasty language I was talking about at the first. I would rather have changed it to something more Mom-acceptable, like the vice president telling the pessimist senator to go jump in the lake, but that's not what the vice president said -- and I wouldn't want to monkey with his word-usage any more than I'd want him monkeying with mine. We have enough problems in this business without deliberately misquoting people.) The theme has clarified the campaign for the president, and simplified it, taking it down a notch from the already simplistic, to a level at which he has always been more confident and comfortable. He can be platitudinous now -- or the speechwriter can -- while honestly regarding himself as a veritable geyser of newly realized folk wisdom. He can condemn the pessimists and mean it. Fellow Americans, get with our optimistic program or go fuck yourselves. The theme will crunch the campaign's difficult questions and complex issues down to manageable form, allowing the president to deliver a foolproof, formulaic response each and every time. Here are a few examples of the streamlined optimist-pessimist go-fuck-yourself campaign theme at work: If you don't think you're better off now than you were four years ago, then you're a pessimist and can go fuck yourself. If you don't think that Clinton left us with a fast-collapsing economy, and that Bush the Optimist slowly but steadily and always cheerfully dug us out of those colossal all-Clinton's-fault ruins, then you're a pessimist and can go fuck yourself. If you don't think everything is just hunky-dory with the economy, and that this "recovery" is the real McCoy, and that prosperity is just around the corner, then you're a pessimist and you can go fuck yourself. If you think these gasoline prices are hopelessly out of control, well then, pessimist, g.f.y. If you think job outsourcing is a matter of concern, or if you even know what the term means, then p.g.f.y. If you have one good thing to say about the Michael Moore movie, or one bad thing to say about the Mel Gibson movie, then you're a you-know-what and can go you-know-what. Unless you take the attitude of deficit-schmeficit, then you're a pessimist, or perhaps, again quoting directly, again with regret and apologies to Mother, a major-league asshole, and, yes, you can, as the vice president sagely advised, go fuck yourself. If you long for the good old days when the United States didn't start wars but did end them, then you're a pessimist and can go fuck yourself. If you still have qualms about those weapons of mass destruction, and about having been stampeded into a war of aggression under false pretenses, then you're an extra-pessimistic pessimist and can go fuck yourself two or three times. If you don't think the president ought to be able in wartime to torture whoever he wants to, however he wants to, for as long as he wants to, the vice president has a suggestion for you. If you think Halliburton ought to be able to charge your military $250,000 per foil-wrapped salisbury steak TV dinner to feed your troops in the field, then you're a pessimist and can heed the earthy counsel of Halliburton's leading benefactor. If you don't hate gay people, and don't think some sort of condemnation of them ought to be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, then g.f.y., Mr. g-and-d p. If like young Reagan Jr. you think it's in bad taste on the most solemn of occasions to festoon the presidential shirtsleeve with a big old inflatable Jesus, well, you know what you are and what you can do. Etc., etc., g.f.y., g.f.y., g.f.y. Even if the theme is more appealing to the president than effective on the hustings, it's optimistic nature will allow him to assume that if worse comes to worst the Supreme Court will do what has to be done, again.

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