Monday, August 27, 2007

A Modest Proposal? Call for Coup d'Etat at HuffPo is Only "Satire"

I first read about Martin Lewis' call for a military revolt against the Bush administration over at Michael Van Der Galien's page. Lewis wrote a letter to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace requesting that President Bush be relieved of his civilian command of the military, placed under arrest, and tried for conduct unbecoming.

It's a pretty outlandish scenario, but not too crazy to be cooked up by the rabid Bush-bashers on the left side of the dial.

It turns out Lewis' proposed coup d'etat provoked an intense backlash in the right-wing blogosphere, and
Lewis has responded with an entry over at Huffington Post this morning. He argues that his letter to the general was simply an exercise in Swiftian satire (after Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal").

I'm not expert on Swift, but Lewis does seem to be elevating himself up to an august level of satirical accomplishment. I'll let scholars of English literature hash out the comparisons between the Lewis and Swift essays.

I'd point out here, though, that if Lewis was not serious in his initial letter to the Joint Chiefs Chairman, he's certainly gotten into the ring this morning with his rebuttal to the right-wing. Here's a major flurry of blows against the conservatives' reaction, which Lewis sees as insufficiently deferential to his satirical turn:

The wing-nut world is up in arms (in some cases literally) with calls for me to be tried for sedition and treason. Some want me deported. Others are advocating hanging or shooting against a wall. Worst of all -- someone wants the FBI to open a file on me. (And I thought that the FBI was busy with important matters...)

But how do you explain satire to people who are uncontaminated by either wit or wisdom?

And of course -- as befits those who worship at the shrine of Atwater and Rove -- my satire has been twisted into headlines such as "HuffPo Calls For Military Coup In USA" Yup -- these guys are the Chubby Checkers of politics. They sure know how to twist... Again and again.

If there is even a single person left in the progressive/liberal/Democratic world who doubts how vicious and malevolent these people will be in their desperate attempt to retain the White House and regain Congress next year -- be aware now. These people will literally stop at nothing. 2000, 2004 and 2006 will seem like church picnics compared to how dirty they will fight the 2008 elections.

I'm just a minor satirist on a small soapbox -- and they came after me with all the ferocity of the Bush administration chasing Bin Laden... (Note to right-wing-nuts: That was what we elite, effete snobs -- who CAN hold a candle -- call:

After all that they have done to Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Max Cleland and many more -- I got off very lightly. I was only threatened with murder a couple of times. But what gutter smears will these people come up with to demonize Democratic candidates next year?

And will the mainstream media fulfill its obligation to the American people to stand up and denounce and debunk these Un-American Activities?

Read the whole thing. Lewis declaims any conspiratorial intent. He hides in the alleged respectability of a career in humor writing. But I have to agree with those on the right who take issue with this line of comedy: The challenge today for the United States in Iraq is of the highest stakes, and humor of this sort is of the worst taste imaginable.

Satire has its place in media and literature, but a blog post at the vehemently partisan Huffington Post ought to be taken for what it is: A brazen ideological attack on the presidential administration hardline leftists oppose.

Lewis can deny malicious intent all he wants, but if he's as clever a satirist as his Swiftian moment suggests, he knows damn well that his roundabout call for a military coup against the administration will send his hard left revolutionary cadres to the barricades. September is expected to be a month of widespread protest against the Bush "regime." What better way to whip up the passions of the mob than with calls to decapitate the "illegitimate" regime occupying the White House.

Elections are never enough for the uncleansed hordes of the left. It's politics by other means - anything to destabilize the Republican hold on power. Lousy attempts at satire just reflect the desperation of such efforts.

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