By MARC McDONALD
At one time, fearmongering was the best thing that ever happened to George W. Bush and the NeoCons, as they cynically exploited 9/11 to advance their agenda. But now it's backfiring, as panic and fear fuel the economic meltdown.
For the past seven years, the GOP repeatedly did its best to scare the living bejesus out of the American people.
It's a strategy that worked, time and time again, and even played a key role in returning Bush to the White House in 2004.
The American people have been kept in a state of fear ever since 9/11, thanks to Bush's fearmongering. But it's a strategy that's now backfiring for Bush and the GOP.
Fear, after all, is what fuels stock market crashes and panic selling. And fear is clearly playing a big role in the current economic debacle. Although the underlying economic reasons for the crisis are real enough, it's clear that panic and fear among investors and consumers is making the crisis even worse.
The American people are increasingly afraid of doing anything with their money, outside of stuffing it into a mattress. They don't trust mutual funds. They don't trust banks. They don't trust Wall Street. And they don't trust the Fed. Increasingly, they're embracing the mindset that Americans shared during the 1930s Great Depression.
For seven long years, Bush cynically used the fear of terrorism to manipulate the American people. As a result, Bush even got the American people to initially support his disastrous invasion of Iraq.
Between color-coded terror alerts and the constant scare words and language of fear and confusion, Bush got the American people so scared that they were ready to accept anything he wanted. As a result, Bush got whatever he sought, from shredding the Constitutions to embracing torture as official state policy.
But now it's backfiring. A terrified and fearful American people are simply going to stop spending money. They're going to sell their stocks. They're going to bail out of their mutual funds. And the U.S. is going to enter a lengthy and brutal second Great Depression. By the time this nightmare is over, the U.S. could easily become a Third World-like nation. It will almost certainly lose its status as the world's only economic superpower, as the world's balance of power shifts to East Asia.
And now, along with the Project for the New American Century, the Republican brand is now severely tarnished, perhaps forever.