Monday, June 03, 2002

AS THE SHINE WEARS OFF
GWB is starting to embarrass me (that would be me as a citizen, not me personally, though I'm sure he could do that too). I've been quiet for a while about national politics because I figured, Hey, give the guy a chance with the terrorist war and such. We all appreciated the patrician resolve shown by Cheney, Rumsfeld and others in that time of crisis. But now, nearly a year later, the act is wearing thin and Bush is starting to look like a goofball, ex-frat dud who sobered up into a bad salesman.

First...what is the deal with this war? If we're in a war, shouldn't Congress be involved? Shouldn't there be some declaration of War? A marshaling of resources to combat the enemy? What I see is a White House shouting at the nation BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID! But not so afraid that you stop shopping. Unless of course, some media outlet asks embarrassing questions of the Bush administration, like Why did John Ashcroft (on Sept 10 of last year) refuse the FBI's request for more funds to combat terrorism? Why couldn't the FBI put together the many clues they rounded up and offer a cogent review of Bin Laden's interest in aviation? When those questions come up, notice how the Administrations vague spewing of possible terrorist threats increases dramatically? How much would you like to bet that all this talk of war and implied terror threats will roll right on through Election Day in hopes of re-seating GWB at the head of the table?

Not to cast doubts on our fine troops overseas, but have you noticed this - Every few weeks, we get big headlines that American troops raided some Afghan compound, killed a half dozen people and taking 50 suspected Al Queda suspects into custody. Soon after, there are much smaller stories further back in the paper reporting that Afghan locals deny any terrorist connection and in fact, those people killed were at a wedding/farming/sleeping over a friends place. Then a few weeks after that, even further back in the paper, there's a brief saying the US has released all 50 people arrested during that raid. If this was happening in America, wouldn't that just a wee bit upsetting? Again and again, Americans in Afghanistan appear to attack Canadians, allied Afghan soldiers or innocent Afghan citizens. There's something very wrong with this that Fog of War doesn't begin to cover. Somebody should be taking the blame for that.

The whole FBI thing is a comical fuck-up, but more so for the lack of leadership and truth by management than anything the field agents did. It appears agents tried to get the word out and research the incidents. Second-guessing the possibilities of what might have been if the FBI and CIA played nice and returned phone calls doesn't do much good now, no mater how much fun that is for the media. To me, all this shows is that having a Republican in charge is no magical elixir in a war on crime or terrorism. And it makes me realizes the silliness of that question heard so often on cable news last year - Now aren't you glad Bush is President? Well, frankly, no. I think Gore would have gotten the same advice from the pros that Bush got and and the battle portion of the War would have gone much the same as under Bush. And under Gore - who for all his faults was a smart, worldly guy - our President might not be regarded as such a jingoistic bo bo by the rest of the planet's leaders.

I still think the real question to ask is still this - Would Republicans have stood behind Gore in the War On Terrorism the way Democrats stood behind Bush? I'd like to think so, but I wonder.

BTW - War on Terrorism...isn't that odd. Is this our nation's first sanctioned war against an idea instead of a people or country?

Finally, there are Bush's droning media appearances, where if he's not glued to his speech, he's veering dangerously off base, such as when he asked the President of Brazil "Do you have black people too?" or when he chided an American reporter for daring to ask a question in French to the Prime Minister of France (while in France). Yes, these incidents appear to be true and you can read about them here, at This Modern World

There's a persistent suggestion of dyslexia regarding Bush's daily torture of the English language. Some suggest this is a matter of lowering expectations, so we can all be as thrilled as GWB when he finishes a sentence with lots of multi-syllabic words. I don't buy the dyslexia pitch. I prefer to re-cast a Chris Rock line which to me via Warren "Fuck dyslexia. What ever happened to stupid?"

Veering a bit...speaking of Bush's speech patterns, I found a great interview at The Nation with Mark Crispin Miller who wrote The Bush Dyslexicon. He offers witty observations about GWB's speech patterns, such as this nugget:

If you don't stand for anything, you don't stand for anything.
If you don't stand for something, you don't stand for anything.
      -Austin-American Statesman, November 2, 2000

This logical tic betrays the perfect emptiness of much that Bush says off the cuff. A wholly televisual being (although startlingly untelegenic), Bush often uses speech not to say anything, but merely to depict himself as saying something, "boldly" and "decisively."


Miller has much more good stuff in the interview, including notes on my favorite argument - the myth of the liberal media. Read it.

So anyway, all this goes to say GWB is starting to creep me out again. When I see him on TV walking briskly through a military graveyard in Europe, I think shameless exploitation of the military for a photo op.... Sure, Clinton did the photo ops too, but he knew how to strike up a conversation and make it all seem a bit more real. Bush doesn't even look interested or connected. In fact, he looks kind of medicated.

Somebody better check on Cheney's heart.

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