The Big 'S'

LI used to write for a business mag. So naturally we like ‘synergy’ when we see it, and boy, did we see it in the NYT today. There is the President on the first page, photo opping in a New Orleans that has been cleared of the kind of people that would make his entrance there unsafe, promising to treat the Gulf Coast like he has treated Iraq – from the appointment of a Bremer like figure to screw things up (Karl Rove is going to be the Gulf czar) to another load of borrowing from the Chinese and Japanese central banks to stuff into the pockets of the croney-network – the engineering/petroleum/war industries outlined in Robert Bryce’s book, “Cronies.”

The organ Bush refers to most – his heart -- was enthroned last year by the simplest of all strategies – bribery, in the shape of tax cuts for people who are looking for some influx of money to substitute for their fallen wages (after all, the private sector is more than ever a first come first serve proposition, with the first comers being the “investor class”) combined with entertainment – in 2004, that function being taken care of by the verbal lynching of gays, to be followed by discrete private actions, no doubt, in your own subdivision or village.

And then, on the Business page, is Bushism in action: NBC is promoting a new show, "Three Wishes," hosted by an evangelical entertainer, Amy Grant, who will “[travel] to a different town each week in an effort to fulfill the heart's desire of needy families and community groups.” In other words, she will arrive to douse some poor suck in a little surplus value to amplify that compassionate glow in the tv audience. Giving away money on tv is the low rent road to ratings and votes, especially if it can be fairydusted with faith:

“In advance of the new prime-time television season, NBC sent more than 7,000 DVD's of the show's first episode to ministers and other clergy members, along with a recorded message to their congregants from Ms. Grant. ("At its core, 'Three Wishes' is faith in action," she tells them.) The network has also booked Ms. Grant - a pop singer who vaulted to fame singing Christian songs, crossed over to mainstream radio and recently released an album of hymns titled "Rock of Ages" - for interviews on Christian radio and taken out advertising in small-town newspapers.

And, perhaps most seductively, NBC has been stuffing cash registers at stores here like Goody's and others in or around Nashville, Salt Lake City, Des Moines and Milwaukee with tens of thousands of $1 bills used for groceries and other basics. The dollars are affixed with yellow stickers (removable, consistent with Treasury Department guidelines) that ask, "What's your wish?," and implore people to watch the show. All told, the network expects to give away 150,000 of those dollar bills in 15 cities and towns.”

Rest assured that those 1 dollar bills won’t be used for six packs of Pabst, at least on compassionate tv -- more’s the pity. The chintziness of the charity, the cheapness of the faith, and the underlying contempt for the yokel set – 150 thou is definitely not going to buy your way into the Houston Petroleum club – makes this show an electric match for the show just put on by the Prez. Rove missed it – wouldn’t it have been nice to see Ms. Grant handing out some of those one dollar bills to scrubbed evacuees at the end of the plea to put billions more in the pockets of those people who need it most, the CEOs of Brown and Root, of Halliburton, of Exxon Mobile, and of all the rest of the neediest in this fine country of ours?

If this isn’t the voice of Bush culture, I don’t know Arkansas, as the Duke says in Huckleberry Finn:
“The cash register at Goody's clothing store here flashed $106.01 - for a dress shirt and three pairs of Levi's - but as Lori Smith reached for her credit card, a nearby voice brought the transaction to a halt.

"Tell you what, why don't you let me take care of it?" said Scott Evans, his delivery as smooth as a car salesman's as he directed Ms. Smith to a partner brandishing stacks of $1 bills.”


winn said…
That last bit reminded me of times when I had to let my family pay the bills. If you let them pay, you dance to their tune. Considering the musical stylings of Amy Grant it's hardly going to have a beat you can dance to.


Also, I seem to remember, far back in the distant past, something about Karl Rove and a scandal, something about a CIA agent and White House revenge? Do you? It has been so long ago.
roger said…
Ah, Winn, you are forgetting -- dancing is a sin!
Yeah, I remember that scandal involving Rove in the long ago. But you have to admire the administration's strategy for handling scandals: they produce such disasters that the scandals, in perspective, look chintzy.