"These are not joyous times."

August 23, 2006 by susan

by susan

Thus saith the great responder.

You have to wonder what, exactly, brought President Bush to this realization. After all, has he acknowledged any mistakes or failures in his disastrous policies? From New Orleans to Iraq, the first frat boy and his handlers have tried to conflate the issues and obscure the realities. Even if you wind the clock back to 9/11 and leave out all the blundering stick-in-your-eye foreign policy since then - if indeed anything so badly conceived and carried out could be called a policy -- this gravitas-free president's response was to reduce patriotism to shopping and loopy magnetic bumper stickers while cheerfully predicting that the end is in sight. Of course with this messianic president, we never know which end that might be.

So was it the images on TV that got to him? "You know, nobody likes to see innocent people die. Nobody wants to turn on their TV on a daily basis and see havoc wrought by terrorists."

Well, nobody does see them dying, if they're not watching Al Jazeera and other Arab TV news, so how did he? It's said that during the Vietnam War that it was the images on the nightly news of screaming children, skin seared by napalm, and the shattered bodies of American soldiers that fed the anti-war movement and put an end to that catastrophe.

Those memories forged this chicken-hawk administration's approach to news coverage, thus the clamp down on grisly coverage this time around, including the ban on photos of returning dead Americans in body bags. Seen any footage out of Iraq that comes close to any that we saw out of Vietnam? And it's not because the journalists on the ground are not doing their death-defying job; it's because our government restricts them. (See interview in Foreign Policy with Rod Nordland, Newsweek's Baghdad bureau chief for two years.) And by-the-by, the havoc wrought by terrorists? Please define for me, Great Decider, just who that would be in Iraq, because even our own troops (considered by many in the Arab world to fit the bill) are having trouble knowing which way to shoot.

Is it his sagging poll numbers? Apparently not, because despite the fable of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, we never seem to learn, and our own little shepherd boy is rebounding once again. Back up to a whopping 44% approval rate, according to some polls, as a result of the foiled British shampoo bomb plot.

So one has to think it's nothing more than another smarmy moment, as Barb (see yesterday's post) and others have suggested, brought to us by Karl Rove and the RNC. The winning stradgy, as our mush-mouthed president might say, is to try empathy instead of arrogance and to argue that even though there's no link between 9/11 and Iraq (and deny ever saying there was) that withdrawal from Iraq will give the terrorists a victory and guarantee another attack on our soil. And the Demcrats don't git that.

The trouble with Republican stradgies is they work to win elections, but not to govern nations - or invade them. Nor to improve the lives of anyone but those already lucky enough to be cresting along the top of these now fetid waters. Remember when it was almost embarrassing to be a nation that tried to live, for the most part, by its high principles?

Turning this horribly misguided and broken down ship of state around is going to take years of skillful piloting, and the midterm elections offer no more than a chance to nudge it off its current disastrous course, like a small tug boat churning against the bow of a thousand foot freighter. But the Republicans would prefer not to deal with such an annoyance. Besides, there's the thought of those messy investigations into -- everything.

So, bring it on, here comes the slime machine. The Vets for Freedom (as opposed to those for confinement), the smearing of the Democrat party (there's a good reason they don't say Democratic - see Hendrik Hertzberg in the August 8 New Yorker), and the charges of encouraging terrorism by trying to end the nightmare of Iraq.

C'mon America, show your stuff. Show the world that we have a brain if not a soul, and vote those who do the bidding of these crooks and liars out of office.

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