vrijdag, maart 07, 2003

Aces Wired, Sheriff Bush Calls Hand

"You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away, know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

Kenny Rogers, "The Gambler"

Sheriff Bush, much like Wyatt Earp, just itchin' to disarm Ike Clanton and his boys, told the world last night that "it's time for people to show their cards, let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam."

Very boldly, perhaps the only unpredictable moment of the entire press conference, was Bush's announcement that he's ready to re-live the gunfight at OK Corral, that regardless of the vote on a UN resolution, he is doing whatever he wants, which is clearly, chosing the path of maximum confrontation.

I'm confident the American people understand that when it comes to our security, if we need to act, we will act, and we really don't need United Nations approval to do so.

(That's right George! You don't need no stinkin' international bodies committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security if they aren't going to do your bidding! )

As Bush succinctly pointed out last night:

"They could have showed up at a parking lot and he could have brought his weapons and destroyed them." A parking lot? What is this, West Side Story? Bernardo and Riff, the Sharks and the Jets meeting up in the parking lot at midnight for a rumble?

Last night's spectacle was billed as a "press conference". True enough, it had all the frippery of a press conference: it was, in essence, an interview held for news reporters by a political figure, but like much in the Bush Administration, it followed the letter but not the spirit of a press conference. The fact that the reporters who got to ask the questions were selected in advance underscores once again, for those not paying attention, the desperate need of Bush handlers for message management.

"In this case, we know what the questions are going to be, and those are the ones we want to answer," Communications director Dan Bartlett said.

Bush was given a memo consisting of about 50 possible topics with suggested answers. Then his most senior aides gathered around his desk in the Oval Office and fired practice questions at him.

There were an assortment of uneasy moments as Bush fumbled with how to put even his simplest, most repetetive phrases in order for the public. There were frequent gaps of speech, a groping for even familiar slogans which was not at all like the intellectual pauses of someone paging through a vast repertoire of ideas but rather someone attempting to recall memorized passages in the middle of an oral exam. And there were also moments when, after a particularly rough effort, you could see a wave of relief flooding over his face, as though he'd succeeded at putting another one over on everyone.

This is not to imply that he isn't sincere. Just that he's sincere in a very simplistic way, like the sincerity of a dog. He has no trouble reminding us that liberty is "God's gift to each and every person". He has no trouble sincerely expressing his belief, however unsubstantiated and misguided, that Saddam presents a threat to the safety of Americans. He revels in expressing his belief that he's given Saddam enough time. And he appears to sincerely believe he is doing all Americans a favor by presenting us with this war, even though the majority of America and the world, especially without the UN stamp of approval, is against it.

"My job is to protect America, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. People can ascribe all kinds of intentions. I swore to protect and defend the Constitution. That's what I swore to do. I put my hand on the Bible and took that oath. And that's exactly what I am going to do."

This the kind of disingenuous rhetoric Bush and his Administration excel at. Meaningless palaver designed to persuade a torporific population of somnambulists, with a combination of old-school religious piety and moral righteousness.

"I pray for peace. I pray for peace." he said. Did he have to repeat it because even to him, the first time sounded too ridiculous to fathom? These are the kind of follow-up questions a real press conference would have had. Could you elaborate on this theory of Peaceful Violence of yours, Mister President?

One thing I'm beginning to understand is why the members of the Bush Administration keep saying the same things over and over again. It's because those pesky reporters keep asking the same damned questions over and over again! Questions like: "Why do you continue to try and link Saddam Hussein to 9/11 when there is no evidence of it?" and "Why don't you care that the majority of the world population disagrees with your gut assessment of the threat level of Saddam Hussein?" and "How much is this war going to cost Americans?"

These questions are just an impediment to the real issue at hand which is war with Saddam. As Our Fearless Leader said last night, from the very beginning, that the primary issue for attacking Iraq is:

(Please turn your hymn books to UN Resolution 1441 and join me in song):

"Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed, as required by Resolution 1441, or has it not?"

And if you don't like that one, there's always the multiple choice menu to choose from:

Saddam Hussein:
A.) Has a long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes.
B.) Possesses weapons of mass destruction
C.) Refuses to disarm
D.) Tortures and gasses his own people.

There you have it.

This is in essence, the highlight of the disingenuous sort of Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader Zoroastrianism that Bush engages us with. You are with us or you are against us. You will disarm or we will disarm you. The UN Security Council will obey our desires or the UN Security Council will cease to have any useful function for us. Saddam is Evil, the Bush Administration is Good.

In some ways, this disconnected logic seems so simple even President Bush seems to understand it. I'm shocked the rest of the world doesn't yet.

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