I Hate It When She’s Right (III)

The facts in the column may be substantively cribbed from innumerable blogs, but it has that trademark Dowd cattiness. And, oh yes, it's so true:

Dance of the Marionettes: It's heartwarming, really.

President Bush has his own Mini-Me now, someone to echo his every word and mimic his every action.

For so long, Mr. Bush has put up with caricatures of a wee W. sitting in the vice president's lap, Charlie McCarthy style, as big Dick Cheney calls the shots. But now the president has his own puppet to play with.

All last week in New York and Washington, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi of Iraq parroted Mr. Bush's absurd claims that the fighting in Iraq was an essential part of the U.S. battle against terrorists that started on 9/11, that the neocons' utopian dream of turning Iraq into a modern democracy was going swimmingly, and that the worse things got over there, the better they really were.

Every time the administration takes a step it says will reduce the violence, the violence increases.

Mr. Bush doesn't seem to care that by using Mr. Allawi as a puppet in his campaign, he decreases the prime minister's chances of debunking the belief in Iraq that he is a Bush puppet – which is the only way he can gain any credibility to stabilize his devastated country and be elected himself.

Actually, being the president's marionette is a step up from Mr. Allawi's old jobs as henchman for Saddam Hussein and stoolie for the C.I.A.

It's hilarious that the Republicans have trotted out Mr. Allawi as an objective analyst of the state of conditions in Iraq when he's the administration's handpicked guy and has as much riding on putting the chaos in a sunny light as they do. Though Mr. Allawi presents himself as representing all Iraqis, his actions have been devised to put more of the country in the grip of this latest strongman – giving himself the power to declare martial law, bringing back the death penalty and kicking out Al Jazeera.

Bush officials, who proclaim themselves so altruistic about bringing liberty to Iraq, really see Iraq in a creepy narcissistic way: It's all about Mr. Bush's re-election.

The only odd thing is that Dowd is surprised. With this crowd everything is about their re-election. It's part of why they are so dangerous. With the Reaganites you frequently believed that large swatches of policy might actually be dictated by some crazed belief they were good for the nation (not environmental policy, and arguably not Stockmanomics, but much defense and foreign policy at least).

The effort required for any well-informed person to hold that belief about this lot is much more than mere cognitive dissonance could describe. It needs at least a Marcuse to encompass it.

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5 Responses to I Hate It When She’s Right (III)

  1. Chris says:

    Hardly anyone in our country–Democrats, Republicans, or other–have any clue about the basic features of propaganda and how to detect it. Sure, we use that word (propaganda) all the time, but only as a blunderbuss way of discrediting a positon we don’t like–i.e., without any idea of the basic characteristics of propaganda. Like, for instance, the need to be skeptical of information from a source that has a vested interest in influencing you to think a certain way (i.e., Allawi). Our education system simply does not train people to think like this. If anyone out there is serious about learning more on propaganda and how to fight it, there are several sites. First is “spinsanity.com”–which slams propaganda from any political party with equal effectiveness. For a more general information, google “The fine art of propaganda,” and you will come up with all kinds of pages outlining the features and detection of propaganda.

    Lots of people talk about “critical thinking,” and the phrase appears with astonishing regularity in my fellow profs teaching philosophies as an educational goal for students, but I’m not at all convinced many of our students (let alone anyone who hasn’t gone to college) can actually do it. If we could, then the utterances by the President would only appear in the opinion or gossip pages, unless the veracity of his words had been confirmed by at least several disinterested sources and thoroughly screened for “bandwagons,” “card-stacking,” and all the rest.

  2. “Thus emerges a pattern of one-dimensional thought and behavior in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe“ (Marcuse 1964: 12).

    Don’t worry, Professor, the brainwashing will take care of all of that nasty cognitive dissonance.

  3. nigel says:

    Propaganda? Brainwashing? I thought I went over this with you people! It is somestimes better to but a good light on a situation, especially when you can’t extricate yourself from it. I will only offer this passage from Du Mu’s notes on Master Sun Tzu’s Art of War as evidence.

    “If we wish to extricate ourselves from a calamity inflicted by the enemy, we must do more than consider the power of the enemy to harm us. We must never lose sight of our own ability to gain an advantage over the enemy. This thought must temper our perception of calamity and enter into our planning. Then it is possible to avert the calamity. The wise leader always blends consideration of gain and harm. For example, if the enemy is surrounding us and all we think of is the (negative) idea of breaking out and escaping, out troops’ morale will sag and the enemy will be sure to pursue us and attack. We should urge our men on to fight and counterattack, and let the (positive) prospect of victory, the thought of gain, motivate them to break the encirclement.

    Looks like 2000 years ago Master Sun was an American puppet as well.

  4. Tsk, Tsk, Nigel. There’s no such thing as a little white lie.

  5. Chris says:

    Far be it for me to question Sun Tzu’s wisdom. He just wanted to keep his army together. I cannot fault him for wanting that.

    The trouble, though, is that the President is not our general, and neither are we his subordinates. In fact, the President is more like a steward whom we entrust with executing the day-to-day business of our country. Personally, I would appreciate it if the steward of our country could be trusted to give me an accurate accounting of everything. We should not tolerate anything else–would you tolerate an employee who reported a division of your company was profitable and doing better when in fact it was hemorraging money? The truth may be a hard thing to deal with even when one knows the facts, but it is impossible to deal with when one is living in a fantasy world. It is not the president’s job to make us feel good, but to make intelligent decisions and render an honest accouting. If he can’t do that, he should be fired.

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