Patriotic hyperbolist Rick Barber has released a new campaign commercial, and it is to his last commercial what 2001: A Space Odyssey is to Lolita. Props to The Cure for the link. In preparation for his run-off against Martha Roby for the Republican nomination to represent Alabama’s 2nd District in Congress, Barber has once again enlisted the help of some dead Presidents, but not in the cool way like Nas. In a video called, wisely, “Slavery,” Barber takes his case against the “tyrannical health care bill” to the ghost of George Washington and, at the climax of the narrative, the reanimated corpse Abe Lincoln, who is tastefully shot from the front.* Then comes bonus material. A crowd of people sing the fourth verse of the Star-Spangled Banner amid footage of wars, wars, wars, followed by a shot of Barber and Dale Peterson watching Glenn Beck in a bar. Since he’s going out, Peterson has brought his gun. Video after the jump.
Space and time, both here and as a manifold, do not permit a full examination of everything that is wonderful about this commercial. Still, a few salient points must be made. Let us start by correcting a minor factual inaccuracy: it’s the tyrannical health care law now, bitch! Also, we open with a shot of a gun and the Bible on a table. Now seems as good a time as any to address the central theme of the video, which is that Rick Barber’s worldview is completely insane.
I don’t know if you heard this, but Barber used to be in the Marines. His campaign slogan is “Taking your fight to Washington,”* and this commercial, like his previous, is scored with constant military drumming. One gets the impression that Barber is plotting a revolution in his pool hall, which is almost certainly what he wants to convey. One also gets the impression that war is the only thing Barber really thinks the government should be doing. Consider the argument he makes to the respectfully not-wailing ghost of George Washington:
Mr. President, some argue that you would be in favor of this tyrannical health care bill, because you enforced the Whiskey Act of 1791. But that was an excise tax levied to serve the military debt incurred by the Revolutionary War—a legitimate function of government. Correct?
That’s the first fifteen seconds. Talking about the Whiskey Act and how it relates to present federal revenue policy is a great way to get my attention, but it’s an almost sure bet to lose everybody else’s. In addition to the specious claim that fighting an armed revolution to overthrow the government is somehow a legitimate function of government, the Whiskey Act is a straw man, here. A more valid historical parallel* would be Shays’s Rebellion—when farmers in western Massachusetts nearly overthrew the state government after refusing to pay a land tax—which convinced Washington that the United States needed a much more powerful federal government than the Founders originally envisioned. Not that that might bear on the arguments of Tea Party candidate Rick Barber or anything.
That’s not the point of this commercial, though. The point of this commercial is that any sort of taxation for social welfare programs—”if someone’s forced to work for months to pay taxes so that a total stranger can get a free meal, medical procedure or a bailout”—is slavery. Even the actor playing zombie Abe Lincoln has to be goaded into admitting this. When he does, though—and after the effects of whatever drug the viewer has taken on the word “slavery” have worn off—Barber drives home his point with a series of shots of, you know, slavery, culminating in the gates of Auschwitz.
I don’t want to harp on an obvious point, here, but Rick Barber feels that the income tax in conjunction with federal social services is analogous to the organized extermination of Jews by Nazi Germany. Thank god he said that thing about the Whiskey Act, or I would suspect he was talking out of his ass. It’s interesting that Barber makes this point to Abraham Lincoln, since President Lincoln signed the first income tax into law with the Revenue Act of 1861. Considering what the Revenue Act was designed to pay for, I can only imagine his thrill at being summoned to a bar to talk about slavery with a dude from Alabama.
After people of all races and levels of retardation sing the fourth verse of the Star-Spangled Banner, we get a shot of Barber and Dale “Get Away From That!” Peterson watching Glenn Beck in Barber’s bar. There’s no real reason for it, other than Barber’s evident and frankly likable amusement, but it brings together everything we really need to know about the Barber candidacy: white people, Glenn Beck, business owners, guns. Here is the call to take back power directed at people who already have it. Arbeit macht frei, indeed.