Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A cat among the pigeons

Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Samuel Johnson, the iconoclastic 18th century English essayist, put
it best: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” So,
sure, former Bush administration press secretary Scott McClellan
compiled his memoirs with an eye toward making a buck. Since when are
Republicans opposed to profit? McClellan’s memoir, “What Happened:
Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” has
caused quite a stir. But can there be any American not currently on the
White House payroll who doesn’t know that the administration hoodwinked
the nation into invading Iraq with a tidal wave of meretricious
propaganda? Condi Rice alibis that President Bush never intended to
mislead the public and “was very clear about the reasons for going to
war.” Yeah, well, I recall Rice testifying under oath that a CIA
briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” was
“historical” in nature, before its contents were declassified and
everybody saw that it had predicted everything but the precise location
of the 9/11 attacks before they happened. Bush went fishing.

McClellan calls Rice “sometimes too accommodating” as national security
adviser. She was worse than that. Her 9/11 testimony exhibited two
qualities essential to rising in the Bush administration: shameless
sycophancy and an incapacity to be embarrassed. Give her the motorcade
and the big corner office and there’s no falsehood so brazen that Condi
won’t embrace it.

Then there’s Bush himself, whom Mc-Clellan depicts as a charming fellow
who frequently “convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the
moment” and engages in “self-deception.” Do tell. Would this be the same
president who’s repeatedly claimed that Saddam Hussein forced him to
invade Iraq by refusing to admit U.N. arms inspectors? This despite the
fact that mocking those inspectors’ incompetence—never mind they proved
100 percent correct about Iraq’s nonexistent “weapons of mass
destruction” —kept White House imagineers busy until the “shock and awe”
bombardment began.

So which do you believe, your president or your lying eyes? The sheer
brazenness of Bush’s fictions suggests a classic con-man’s personality:
intellectually insecure, but inwardly contemptuous of how gullible and
easily manipulated people are. He may even buy into that make-believe
about Saddam at some level. Even for a stone sociopath, a story’s an
easier sell when it’s halfway sincere. But his strongest belief is that
George W. Bush is a big cat in a world of pigeons.

McClellen even reports overhearing Bush telling a supporter that he
couldn’t remember if he ever used cocaine. If you believe that, chances
are your brains are made of feathers.

Granted, for McClellan to suggest that the Bush White House’s critical
mistake was “a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those
qualities were most needed” suggests an only-virgin-in-the-whorehouse
naiveté not in keeping with his performance as press secretary. Writing
at salon. com, Louis Bayard reminds us that the Texan was particularly
unpersuasive: “Watch McClellan’s old press briefings and you’ll see a
man who is deeply uncomfortable,” he writes, adding: “His eyes are wary,
his manner stiff—his evasions actually sound like evasions.”

But what really provided sardonic amusement during the book’s roll-out
was the disingenuous reaction of the high-dollar press.

“If anything,” McClellan wrote, “the national press corps was probably
too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard
to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in
Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.

“The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became
apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a
surprise.... In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its
reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”

Got that, pigeons? The Bush administration’s former press spokesman
surrounds the phrase “liberal media” with ironical quotes to indicate
what most people with the intellectual acumen of a basset hound already
know: that far from being an independent check on government power,
today’s corporate controlled, courtier-dominated Washington/ New York
media function as reliably, and far more smoothly, to advance White
House propaganda than McClellan himself ever did. But this is
unthinkable, so the networks, Glenn Greenwald noted, rolled out “their
full stable of multimillionaire corporate stars who play the role of
authoritative journalists on the TV to join with their White House
allies in mocking and deriding McClellan’s claims. One media star after
the next—Tom Brokaw, David Gregory, Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams,
Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer—materialized in sync to insist that nothing
could be more absurd than the suggestion that they are ‘deferential,
complicit enablers’ in government propaganda.” That said, quality
journalism definitely got done amid the Iraq propaganda barrage. One
news organization, then Knight Ridder, now McClatchy, and a handful of
terrific reporters—Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, Joe Galloway, etc.
—were all over this story back when it counted. See their response to
McClellan at washingtonbureau. typepad. com / nationalsecurity/.

—–––––•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and
recipient of the National Magazine Award.


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