mad in pursuit: greed & arrogance

2004 political season

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greed & arrogance index


9.26.04 George's Sausage Factory

In this week's New Yorker (9/27/04), Talk of the Town rips into George Bush. In "The Political War," George Packer gives a litany of the ways in which Bush twists and suppresses information for his political purposes, especially regarding Iraq. Reports and numbers are massaged until the bad news disappears. Career bureaucrats shrug. The Bushies, they say, "like to make their sausage their way."

Packer goes on to say:

The problem with making sausage the President’s way—other than the fact that it deceives the public, precludes a serious debate, bitterly divides the body politic when war requires unity, exposes American soldiers to greater risk, substitutes half measures for thoroughgoing efforts, and insures that no one will be held accountable for mistakes that will never be corrected—is that it doesn’t work. What determines success in this war is what happens in Iraq and how Iraqis perceive it. If U.S.A.I.D. releases a report that prettifies the truth, officials here might breathe easier for a while, but it won’t speed up the reconstruction of Iraq. Covering up failures only widens the gap in perception between Washington and Baghdad—which, in turn, makes Washington less capable of grasping the reality of Iraq and responding to it. Eventually, the failures announce themselves anyway—in a series of suicide bombings, a slow attrition of Iraqi confidence, a sudden insurrection. War, unlike budget forecasts and campaign coverage, is quite merciless with falsehood.

But a terrible thought occurs to me. What if Bush and the neocons actually want a sustained state of war -- a terror threat continually in the air?

It just doesn't seem like we are holding Bush accountable for the mess in Iraq or the lax attention to border and airport security. It is an odd twist of logic that the worse things get, the more Bush seems to be ahead as the "security" president. It's as if they see beheadings and kidnappings and oil pipeline explosions as uncontrollable natural phenomena -- socio-political hurricanes. W. must be taking lessons from Jeb, whose current heroism comes from standing around looking concerned and telling people to follow their local evacuation plans.

"This monster is out of control," he can say. "We're doing all we can. And if you think differently, the hurri-Queda will blow down all your houses. Just get behind me and your children will be safe."

I ask myself, who could possibly want a continual state of war? But isn't history fully of warrior-kings? War means strutting around in boots and leather jackets. War is urgent and in the moment. Almost as thrilling as speeding down a Kennebunkport highway ripped on booze and coke.

War lets you be righteously angry. War lets you suspend civil rights. Big Media gets behind the war effort. You can ride roughshod over environmental concerns. And no matter what the United Nations does, they seem like a bunch of social workers, with all their diplomacy crap.

War justifies anything you want to do.





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