by David Safier
The Republicans are trying on pejorative term number three hundred seventy seven (or something. I've lost count.) to try and slow Obama's momentum. They're saying he's running the U.S. like a Banana Republic because the government might investigate Bush's use of torture.
It began with TV and radio screamers like Hannity, Beck and others. Then it moved to Congress. Here's Arizona's favorite senator:
And McCain's colleague, Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo):
The basic idea they're trying to push is that "Banana Republic" stands for those dictators south of the border we hate so much, like that Castro guy in Cuba and that Chavez guy in Venezuela. You know, the communists and the socialists who are kinda scary and kinda laughable at the same time. And kinda like Mexicans too, only from countries we think are really bad. It never hurts to throw in little racist subtext for the Lou Dobbs crowd.
But that's not where the term comes from. Banana Republics are corrupt, repressive right wing dictatorships that work with huge foreign corporations, originally fruit companies that exported bananas. The leaders enrich their cronies and the foreign corporations while they beggar the rest of the populace. The U.S. usually got along pretty well with these guys, since we counted on them making life easy for our corporate interests.
Say what you will about Cuba and Venezuela, they're not Banana Republics.
So which party in this country favors corporate interests over those of working people, keeping corporate taxes low while opposing minimum wage laws and labor unions? Yeah, I thought so, the "not Obama" party that was in power 100 days ago.
Part of me almost feels sorry for how lame the Republicans are right now and how desperately they're searching for a negative label to hang on Obama. But most of me watches warily. Because I know if one of these labels sticks, the media and most of the populace with forget all the early missteps and latch onto it while every Republican pol repeats it dozens of times daily. Though these guys have been laughable for the past 100 days, unfortunately, they're nothing to laugh at.
Fashion Note: Though the use of Banana Republic isn't laugh-out-loud funny like teabagging, it shows how far these people have fallen since the days when their language was perfectly tailored to sway opinion. Most of the country associates Banana Republic with a store in malls that sells lots of earth tone khakis and other sensibly fashionable clothing. Something tells me the people who created this latest metaphor don't spend much time hanging around at the mall.