Funny how tea partiers, Fox News-ers, and most movement conservatives have not been protesting the new Arizona immigration law that’s stirred widespread fears of a jackbooted police state grabbing people off the street, taking away their rights, and ending the American dream. Maybe these Don’t Tread On Me types simply can’t imagine this happening in a GOP-dominated state government because they’re so focused on the federales–after all, it’s Obama who’s grabbing people off the street, taking away their rights, and ending the American dream, right?
That, at least, is the message of this web ad, posted on a new site called Remember November, which is run by the Republican Governors Association (of which AZ Gov. Jan Brewer is, of course, a member and a fundraising beneficiary):
The Republican party has been struggling to find a voice that will please what it believes to be the all-powerful Tea Party movement and its paranoia, while at the same time quashing Obamaoid optimism. John Boehner overshot the mark with his orange-red-faced "Hell no, you can’t!" speech right before the House passed health care reform. For his trouble, his chorus of "No, you can’t!" was injected into a funny mash-up of Will.i.am’s pro-Obama "Yes, we can" video. Now, in a scarier mash-up, red state govs are injecting Obama’s "Yes, we can" before the printed words "BANKRUPT OUR COUNTRY," "CORRUPT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES," and "END THE AMERICAN DREAM."
None of this doom would feel quite as frightening, however, without that music you hear thumping in the background. It sounds a lot like "O Fortuna," the classical cliche to signify eschatological terror. Carl Orff’s 1935-1936 movement has been used or imitated in movies (Excalibur, 300, Demons and Angels to name a few), commercials (Carleton beer), and in an earlier GOP ad (the spot that scared Senate Democrats away from transferring Gitmo prisoners to the U.S. may be "O Fortuna’s" greatest performance, as Rachel Maddow pointed out last year.). Orff’s classic isn’t just horror-movie scary, like the creepy ringing tones of the "Excorcist" theme. "O Fortuna" suggests an end-times terror, the kind you get when worlds collide, gods fall, or a black Muslim socialist rules a white Christian nation by fooling all of the people all of the time.
And if ever there was a time to crank up the dog whistle symphony it’s now, when, by Jehosaphat, blacks run the White House, flout the rules in Congress, and are so damn brazen they’re boasting on Fox News itself of Obama’s socialist takeover! And Fidel is right behind them, too, waiting for his old-age benefits!
Since that’s obviously absurd, the RGA (chaired by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who says the flap over deleting slavery from Confederate History Month "doesn’t amount to diddly") has to make up crazy things for black people to say. Sure, Al Sharpton said, "the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." But the spot edited out a few key words: "Some would argue it’s socialism?" a Fox talking head asks Sharpton about the health care bill, to which Al replies, "Well, first of all, then we’d have to say that the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama."
And indeed, part of what Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) said, also about health care reform, was "there ain’t no rules here." But he was actually quoting someone bemoaning how too many rules kill creativity, not gloating over Dem control. Hastings: "I wish that I had been there when Thomas Edison made the remark that I think applies here. `They ain’t no rules here–we’re trying to accomplish something.’"
Much has been written this week comparing the RGA’s "Remember November" video with the 2005 movie V for Vendetta. In addition to urging us to vote, "Remember November" evokes the famous poem that begins "Remember, remember, the fifth of November," the date that Guy Fawkes, a Catholic revolutionary, tried unsuccessfully to blow up the British Parliament in 1605. In the movie, a guy wearing a Fawkes mask is a kind of populist-terrorist hero battling (to a "Fortuna"-like beat) a brutal totalitarian state:
Lines like "People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people" made Vendetta a fave of the Ron Paul people, many of whom now steep in the tea parties. And the red V in the GOP governors’ logo does resemble Vendetta‘s bloody red V. Not to mention the V (for Victory) in the recently revived ’80s TV series V, in which human-looking aliens offer mankind technological advancement and hope for a better world, only to be later unmasked as Nazi-like lizards. Who have no birth certificates.
Nonetheless, it’s a long way to travel from a failed 17th century anti-Protestant terrorist to contemporary anti-Big Government protestors, and such routes are usually terribly muddied. The "Remember November" ad is yet another in a long line of GOP efforts to rally the crowd with thoughts of their own persecution: V stands less for Vendetta or Victory or Vote (or even Violence), and more for Victimhood.
So, if you’re feeling your personal V-hood this fall (and who isn’t?), the spot says, just vote R for your governor.
Which, if Newt Gingrich is right, could be as good as G for Gerrymandering. At the Southern Republican Leadership Committee convention last month, he said that, with so many open governor’s seats this year, the 2010 gubernatorial races could swing the House of Representatives red: "If we win these seats, it could be worth as many as 25 or 30 seats in redistricting."
If the Dems let the Repubs get away with all this V business unanswered this summer, it’ll be their own damn vault.