The Simpsons Connected the Dots

[UPDATE 3 Feb 2006] Amazingly, just before 10AM Pacific time, my crosspost of this hit the #1 recommended spot on DailyKos. Must be a Friday thing.

The Bush administration has rightly earned a reputation as The Gang That Couldn’t Think Straight, from Condoleezza Rice’s protestations that “no one could have imagined” planes being used as weapons, to L. Paul Bremer’s failure to see an “insurgency coming” in Iraq, to George W. Bush’s statement “I don’t think anyone anticipated breach of the levees”. I did my own little “Who Coulda Thunk?” series of Katrina/New Orleans-related posts last September about Michael Chertoff, then-CNN analyst/former Chertoff aide Richard Falkenrath, the fact that flooding was explicitly laid out in a DHS Threat Level alert, and Colin Powell’s tin ear.

Still, I’ve been in a reflective mood lately, particularly after seeing a rerun of the 1994 “Sideshow Bob Roberts” episode of The Simpsons. Because there — in just over twenty minutes of animation — Matt Groening’s development team laid out the developments of the intervening twelve years like an intricate series of dots that rain down from a broken shelf onto the back of your head. But somehow the Democratic political leadership failed to connect them.

The candidate is chosen.

(Quicktime, 1.7MB)

The scene opens at night with the camera moving towards a sinister-looking castle with a sign, “Republican Party Headquarters”. Inside, a group of men sits around a table in a large room with a fireplace. Smithers hands out martinis to Ranier Wolfcastle, Birch Barlow, and a ghoul, who takes his bloody martini and slurps it down. Mr. Burns walks in.

Burns: Hail, brothers. Coranon Silaria, Ozoo Mahoke.
    [everyone answers “Mahoke”]
Now, then, gentlemen, the mayoral campaign is upon us. And if we hope to defeat this Joe Quimby, we need a candidate with name recognition and media savvy — a true leader who’ll do exactly as he’s told.
Barlow: Monty, I’m way ahead of you. If you’ll just open that door you’ll see the next mayor of Springfield.
    [door opens to reveal a water cooler; everyone applauds]
    [the cooler bubbles]
Senator: What’d it say?
Barlow: No, no, no, Bob. Bob, come in!
Bob: [enters wrapped in a US flag] A fine “Mahoke” to you all.
Hibbert: Why, he’s even better.
Ranier: I agree. I like the human touch.

When I see this next clip, all I see now is the anti-Kerry windsurfing ad. And so much more.

(Quicktime, 0.9MB)

Bob: Hello, children. [with malice] Hello, Bart.
Bart: Eep.
Bob: Young friends, my opponent, Joe Quimby, is confused about your school system. Do you know what he does? He flip-flops.
    [does backflips; children marvel]
Sometimes he doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going.
    [walks funny; children clap and cheer]
He wants to sell your future short.
    [shrinks, walks sideways; children clap more]

And in this clip, we get to the present day.

(Quicktime, 0.6MB)

Bob: Because you need me, Springfield. Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king. That’s why I did this: to protect you from yourselves. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a city to run.

quotes via The Simpsons Archive