To Be Fair to Bush, Though, I Have to Admit I Have Heard Not a Single Complaint that the Phone Booths in New Orleans and Baghdad Smell Like Pee

Heard on the 2/7/07 edition of MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning, as reported on the WELL:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: The subways didn’t smell like pee anymore. Even the phone booths in New York have always smelled like pee — when there’s not even a booth, it’s just a phone and it smells like pee. And [Giuliani] cleaned it up, and he made you feel like you had a right to walk the street safely. I think he did a great job. I’m sorry. And I think the country wants a boss like that. You know, a little bit of fascism there. Just a little bit. Just a pinch of it.

As if. As if it were “a pinch of fascism” that got the subways and phone booths mopped, rather than a willingness to commit some resources to it and actually pay someone to do the job and have someone in charge actually take the time and trouble to check up and make sure it got done. As if it were impossible to get the subways and phone booths mopped in any other way but making people afraid to displease the powerful. As if the remarkable cleanup of the Times Square area, which is almost certainly what Mr. Matthews is talking about, were due primarily to Giuliani and not the Walt Disney Company. As if the Bush administration has not already been handling affairs both domestic and foreign with more than a pinch of fascism, and the result has been that two of the world’s great cities have in fact been left in a considerably less sanitary condition than they were when Bush & Co. took over.

There is this great myth we have that fascism at least makes things run more efficiently. Such is the power of that myth that we still want to believe in it even though there is no shortage of fascist countries that the proponents of “a pinch of fascism” somehow do not seem to care to move to; even though we all saw for ourselves how the Soviet Union’s horrendous inefficiency ultimately led to its collapse; even though those who lived through Mussolini have told us over and over again that, no, no, no, he did not in fact make the trains run on time.

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