Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Final Tally: A Blowout

34 to 6. I'm glad I took the "over."

President Bush used the words terror, terrorism or terrorists thirty-four times tonight. He said insurgents or insurgency six times. His first mention of "insurgents" came after he employed variations on "terror" nine times.

See how this is going to work from now on?

The continual recasting of our mission in Iraq is akin to a chronic home renovator who hires one interior decorator after another but is never satisfied---except in this case we're dealing with human lives. The vehicle that enables mission creep is language, which is the latest casualty in this war. Common sense and clear thinking demand that this is recognized, ridiculed, scorned, protested, and flatly and unconditionally rejected.

Once the language gets twisted, shameless non sequiturs, previously-debunked lies and entire elaborate deceptions become plausible. When you're in Iraq to "defeat terrorism", you can warn about what will happen "if we forget the lessons of September 11th" as Bush did tonight. You can say things like "they are trying to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September 11th." And of course you can finally mention Bin Laden again, because you haven't done so in about a year and it suits your purpose now. One could almost hear Bush grind his teeth---from desperation, not determination---as he spoke Bin Laden's name.

And when you twist language, you can invoke ridiculous bromides like the flypaper analogy, claiming the need to "defeat the terrorists abroad before they attack us at home." Pay no mind to the fundamental lesson of 9/11, which is that terrorism knows no borders and that it's impossible to keep terrorists "bottled up" in a single country. Bush's mention of the attacks in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, and Bali was unintentionally ironic. Would our allies in those nations agree that terrorism is contained within Iraq's borders by virtue of our military presence there? Does it only matter to us that---until now---we have not been attacked again within our own borders? If we ever do get hit here again, Bush is going to have to explain to an enraged public how the terrorists managed to slip out of Iraq undetected.

Tonight the president assured the troops that "the American people are behind you." Because of the constantly moving set of goalposts that has become their mission, those troops may be forgiven for not thinking the same about their Commander-in-Chief.

46 Comments:

Anonymous dcspook said...

Sometimes I read something that I wish I had written myself. Amen.

6/28/2005 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The use of the words terror, terrorists etc REALLY stuck out especially in the first few minutes. I was thinking of TCR's previous column "Language Creep" while listening to Bush.

6/28/2005 10:34 PM  
Anonymous exclab said...

A rather poor post I thought - rehashing old ideas. But there is not other way with Junior. It is so hard to be lyrical or sensical. You can harp on grimly about the contradictions, obfiscations and ignored over-sights but on he goes determined little hell-sent beaver that he is. Narey a thought for the budget of course. Sort of wish someone at Brag had stood up and said "Whose gonna pay for this &)(*@_#&@*($&!!!!????, YOU?! I don't think so!" What ever happened to fiscal republicans? What a fine and admirable breed they were.

6/28/2005 10:51 PM  
Blogger hilzoy said...

Have you read Billmon's take on this? I think it would interest you.

6/28/2005 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dittos and megadittos from the silent majority.

6/28/2005 11:07 PM  
Anonymous JWC said...

I read your blog eariler today and when I was driving to my granddaughters ball game the speech came on on NPR. At first I was going to change the station, but I decided to listen for a few minutes and count the number of times he used a word with terror in it. You were right! I counted about two a minute for the six minutes I listened. (I understand he slacked off later in the speech, but I was watching the game.)

And I too would like to know what ever happend to the fiscal Republicans? They all seem to drink the kool aid and spend like drunken sailors.

Thanks for your thoughtful blog. Maybe there is hope for our country yet.

6/28/2005 11:12 PM  
Anonymous ctbill said...

As the previous poster said, TCR was absolutely right in his post before this one! Too damn funny. No, I take that back: too damn tragic.

6/28/2005 11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TCR is on a roll...meanwhile Power Line says "Clear, confident, substantive. There was nothing in it that we and our readers didn't already know, but the message is one that many rarely hear."

oh really? Damned right there was nothing new in it, and the message was the same old warmed-over turds we've been hearing since "mission accomplished"

Do they really think they can win the war with domestic PR? What, pray tell, did they really hope to accomplish tonight?

6/28/2005 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with previous poster and agree with TCR.

6/28/2005 11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog.

Fox News declared it the best speech ever from Bush. ABC reported the one handclapping was started by a WH Advance Team member.

I started to read the speech but was frustrated by the second paragraph with the sentence - "This war reached our shores on September 11, 2001. The terrorists who attacked us – and the terrorists we face – murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent.".

Let's forget for a moment how long terrorism as been around, and the 93 bombing, and Oklahoma, but I'm also in the camp that believes the Bush admin allowed it to happen in the first place, through arrogance and idealogical blinders, reduced terrorism measures, threatening Afghanistan when they wouldn't allow a US company to build an oil pipeline, and not listening to international security resources. Let's not forget that the 9/11 widows had to fight the administration to get a 9/11 commission investigation started. We all know by now Bush wanted Iraq way before 9/11.

Now take those 3 points:
- totalitarian ideology
- rejects tolerance
- despises all dissent

and ask yourself how has Karl Rove, Bush, and the GOP with Fox news been working. The propaganda (i.e., government news, Jeff Gannon). If you don't pull their line completely and faithfully, without question - civilian, CIA agent, or General - and god help you if you are gay or want to manager your own body. They speak Democracy, but at home that isn't what they practice. I hate to use the "f"-word, but fascism comes to mind. Let's face it, diplomacy and democracy Bush-style carries a very big stick and gag-rag.

I would have liked to hear more support for our troops in the area of the VA and training, vehicles, and supplies.

Bush wants our support (I guess that means we can stop shopping), but what are we supporting? Their track record on truth is rather poor. Why can't Bush be tough and say, Iraq this is your country, Sadam is gone, get your act together now. We don't want any more of our sons and daughters blood spilled in Iraq. I personally think, with the buildup of military bases and prisons in Iraq we don't intend to leave, but Bush hasn't found the political moment to tell the truth to the American public. Don't just listen to them, watch what they are doing.

Has anyone wondered what happend to the Homeland Security Alert System - it seemed like every other week Tom Ridge or Aschroft was giving us a report. It is so quiet now.

6/29/2005 12:02 AM  
Anonymous DPB said...

The speech will not help Bush and his cause beyond, perhaps, a very short term. I watched Aaron Brown's CNN news tonite, and it included interviews with three military families about the speech. While they were all supportive to varying degrees, as I remember, it was clear that they were fatigued, that they were hoping to hear more. Yes, they seemed a bit buoyed by the president's rhetoric, but it was also clear as day, to me anyway, that whatever bolstering or relief they may have allowed themselves to feel was precarious at best.

So, what happens to that much-desired morale boost next week, next month, when the car bombs continue unabated? Looks to me like they are being set up for a big crash, both in their own hopes and in their trust of the commander in chief.

I really feel for these military families. What a horrible position to be in. I hope Bush soon feels not only their pain, but their fury.

6/29/2005 12:21 AM  
Anonymous exclab said...

I still can't get over this. I am liable for my country going into debt with "communist" China to pay for infrastucture in Iraq, on no bid contracts, an infrastructure which is then destroyed by a limitlessly armed insurgency, ( about which the admin apparently failed to inform itself of ) and then rebuilt by those same damn contracts, with more money from China. All this happens in a country on the other side of the earth. And schools in the USA are falling apart. The republicans should be deeply embarrassed. Thier whole philosophy is written in ---t. I am very angry. This is the most egregous abuse of tax payer trust ever.

How did the democrats lose to this guy? I didn't understand then and I don't now. They should disband. They are hopeless.

6/29/2005 12:30 AM  
Anonymous Apollo 13 said...

Bloggers at Kevin Drum's blog recommended TCR and I'm glad they did. I had given up hope that independently-minded conservatives still existed. Great blog.

6/29/2005 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Shep said...

btw, if you don't know and are interested, Kevin Drum's excellent blog is here.

6/29/2005 12:45 AM  
Blogger G said...

Back to the 9/11 link. Again.

Funny, he mentioned explicitly that 9/11 is why they are in Iraq.

Didn't they move off that lie in the first place because THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF A LINK TO A.Q.???

For the record, the phrase "oh fuck me" left my mouth 22 times in the first 10 minutes before I switched to the ball game. Figured I could DL the transcript of the rest - looks like I didn't miss all that much from there on in.

6/29/2005 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny thing is, with all the crap that's happened since the war started, the guy looks like he gets a solid eight hours of sleep a night. No doubts at all. It's like someone told him 'you can only lose if you question your own decisions', and he was stupid enough to believe it.

6/29/2005 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and I had the same idea - break the speech down into words/phrases to get the gist. Here was my very rough estimate based on the Washington Post excerpt:
9/11 (or code words ) - 5
freedom/democracy/soverignty/elections (or variants thereof) - 24
stay the course/complete the mission, etc. - 5
defend ourselves, get them before they attack us (& similar code language) - 6
terrorists (or variants) - 3
"war on terror" - 3
references to brave soldiers, troops, etc,- 7

Of course there were some trying to take credit for the nuke agreement with Lybia and democratic reformers in Egypt and Saudia Arabia and Lebanon as well as how well things are going with the training of Iraqi police/soldiers.

6/29/2005 9:20 AM  
Anonymous jill said...

Remember, this is the "terror" president. Terror R us.

6/29/2005 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Spadizzly said...

How did the democrats lose to this guy? I didn't understand then and I don't now.

They didn't. The election was stolen outright in Ohio, no thanks to Diebold.

6/29/2005 9:54 AM  
Blogger owenz said...

Joe Biden, the Democratic "presidential hopeful," was on CNN last night telling Paula Zahn that Bush made a good speech that should "reassure the American people" and buy us some time in Iraq. Zahn, of course, was highly skeptical of all the 9/11 mentions...but Biden worked hard to convince her otherwise. Sigh.

6/29/2005 10:05 AM  
Anonymous godotbert said...

I too linked over from Kevin Drum's Political Animal. Nice post. Yeah, lots of 9/11, terrorists, freedom. No WMD's or impending threat we heard so much about.

We are suffering from 'mission creep' in Iraq. What was 'get WMD's and get rid of Saddam' is now 'stand up the Iraqi Army so it can defend the freedom of the Iraqi people so that the Iraqi democracy will help stabilize the middle east and serve as a beacon to the people there and thereby protect America from terrorist attacks.'

The former is done, the latter seems far fetched. That is why the American people are begining to doubt.

6/29/2005 10:10 AM  
Anonymous marycali said...

Nice post TCR!

6/29/2005 10:15 AM  
Blogger Mark Jones said...

wow, while I expected Bush to play the "terroristsssss" card again and again, and, of course, make no substantive, or otherwise, noteworthy statements, I never expected him to come across as so brain dead and robotic. I guess it’s hard to feint enthusiasm, when your policy has been such an abject failure. But still, I did not expect a total mail-in job. Even the Houston Chronicles Julie Mason (who covered the speech in person, and appeared on ABC’s Nightline later) was amazed at how “flat” it (speech) was.

6/29/2005 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was surprised by the fact that the the so-called friendly audience didn't seem too enthralled with Bush's pep talk. I think it was telling that the audience only applauded once during a speech that was meant to rally the troops. And the end-of-speech applause seemed more polite than enthusiastic.

6/29/2005 10:55 AM  
Anonymous exclab said...

To Anonymous: Well the speach was given at Bragg. How many serious strategy-heads ever supported this war? I can't think of any. If I remember correctly Schwartz-kopf was not impressed.

6/29/2005 11:13 AM  
Blogger David Studhalter said...

No, no, you all have it wrong. He's saying "terrists," and it's the War on Terra. Bush and his administration are non-human evil aliens, and they're trying to destroy our planet! Anyone can see this. Go see War of the Worlds to see how it comes out.

6/29/2005 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The use of the term terrorist and 9/11 seems to be part of a more dangerous rhetotical ploy, one that thrreatens success in Iraq, which seems to have become secondary to success in domestic games.

Criticism, any criticism of Iraq is lumped in with some of the more irresponsible criticism from the left, all questioning is concieved as giving aid and support to the terrorists. And in a replay of the simplified replay of "why we lost Vietnam" the only reason for our failure will be disloyal elements who refused to announce the good news.

This is a form of sympathetic magic and had great emotional appeal. It has been widely taken up by many conservatives including the editorial board of the WSJ. It is also going to be attempted in all other possible rouble areas. For example Kudlow has claimed that the fall of the dollar last year was due to liberals bad mouthing, the same explanation is being tried out for any fall in the rreal estate market.

What we are seeing in the core of the Republican party is the belief that mass belief (which I won't deny is a factor) is the primary shaper of reality. This echoes extreme visions such as Maoism where the Marxist "materialist" (eg. technology shapes economy shapes society shapes politics) model was turned on it's head and the "will of the people" was thought to make all possible, the extreme being seen in Khmer Rouge Cambodia where the very skills necessary for survival were eliminated for lack of purity.

Politically I think we are going to be an odd undefined place. I do not think that the "leadership" of the Democratic party can put together a coherant or even inspiring platform at the same time the leadership of the Republican party pursues a demonizing faith (not really Christian) based politics so reasonable people will be selecting from the vast numbers of leaders in the muddle middle who have no formal mechanisms of unification and cooperation. Indeed it is likely that the extremes of both "leaderships" will be undermining the traditional mechanisms.

The battle will often be heart rending because the fundamental dividing line will a general approach (eg. some faith in reason, ability to believe in the decency of others etc.) while old allies who happen to share ones specific positions on certain issues will become the real enemies.

6/29/2005 1:27 PM  
Anonymous semper fubar said...

I think we will look back on this speech as a turning point. The point at which the nation finally grasped that Bush has no idea what to do about the mess he made, and has no intention of trying to do anything except throw more lives and more money at it.

I have to say, even the soldiers in the audience - whom one would suppose should be the most gung-ho pro-war group in the country - didn't look too pumped up, probably becuase they realized THEY were going to be the ones sacrificed on Bush's alter of egotism, mendacity and greed.

I hope Bush makes a speech like this every week. It'll bring to an end all the more quickly this awful chapter of our history.

6/29/2005 1:33 PM  
Anonymous KevinNYC said...

Remember when presidential addresses were held in the White House?

I think Bush's habit of using soldiers as props backfired on him. Does anyone else remember a time when a presidential speech began with a shouted "Ten-hut" and the entire crowd of soldiers stood at attention.

6/29/2005 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

exclab doesn't understand how the Democrats "lost" to this guy??! Go back to 2000: The Dems didn't lose to this guy. Bush was handed the job by the Supremes, while the press and a good percentage of the public struggled to find workable rationalizations. Forget the Nader votes, the Clinton effect, the Democrats' legal and political miscues. The first Bush term was a put-up job. As for the 2nd term, the Republicans manipulated fear, smears, and cultural divisions to eek out a narrow win. There's nothing new in this. It's been SOP for the Republican party since Nixon's heyday...If you want to blame somebody for what BushCo's been up to, blame Bush and the cynical hacks and fixers that populate his administration and currently run his political party.

6/29/2005 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we are seeing in the core of the Republican party is the belief

On that topic, Santorum blames priest sex abuse scandal on liberalism. I can't believe people will buy that garbage book on Hillary. Some folks are saying Klein is out to expose the right wing for how fanatical they are. What a market niche... What can we sell them next! ;-)

Have you ever been in one of those mega-churches... the chills I get are from the group-think.

I'm taking a lesson from some other folks, you work with the party you have, to get the job done.

6/29/2005 3:44 PM  
Blogger Slant Point said...

You guys crack me up. Counting words. That is what everyone on the left did. You're like those people who wuote definitions in their term paper introductions.

Regardless, the War on Terror is tied to 911 and in-volves Iraq. No, Saddam did not cuase 911. Stop thinking we are saying this.

And yes, Bush and his administration wanted Saddam gone. Long before 911. In fact, the military rightly so plans for the contingencies such as regime change by force - and has been since Clinton, and Bush 41, and Reagan, etc.

The fact that we militarily took care of the problem in Afghanistan (I'm sure you'll debate this) left open the option to ask what Next? Remember the Axis of Evil? Well, Iraq was on the list. And Iraq had the longest legal case against it, the longest list of UN-recorded abuses - basically although it was not the most dangerous, it was the perfect opportunity to put a war plan we have had for decades into action.

Why you ask? Well, the middle east is the battle ground of terrorists. You on the left must seriously stop thinking of terrorists in separate little camps.

The middle east was the breeding ground for terrorists, Saddam routinely funded terrorists, Saddam was the most unstable (he actually invaded a country) and he was a tipping point in stability.

Our old plan of containment was tossed out the window after 911. It was now war. Invading Saddam was not because he caused 911, but because after 911 we no longer would accept the status quo.

For you to constantly harp about no connection between 911 and Iraq is beneath the LEft's usual assumed intellectual superiority. Usually you are calling us Red-necks the ones who see in black and white and simple terms. Well, think about it for a moment.

6/29/2005 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Redneck,
Just one small question:
Is Iraq more or less a breeding ground for terrorists now than it was while Saddam was in power?
You might want to check the CIA's published view on this point before you come back.

6/29/2005 4:45 PM  
Anonymous exclab said...

to Slant Point

Right then, when are we invading Saudi Arabia?

When are we invading Israel?

Lets go!

6/29/2005 4:58 PM  
Anonymous exclab said...

Slant Point

Yeah, I am glad that Iraq will no longer be a terrorist training ground after we spent all that money (400 Biillion) IN TWELVE YEARS!

And BTW, about Red necks, I heartily agree. I am sick to death of people who would never let themselves tell a racist joke, palming off some stupid crack about rednecks. I think it is unrecognized social poison and anyone who does it should be ashamed. Its disgusting.

6/29/2005 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe its because I was born in Ireland and live here in the U.S.A., but I can't look at Irish Republican Army, or the Real IRA, or the Troubles, or the Oklahoma City bombing, or the 4th Street Church bombing, or the Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney murders, or the KKK, or the Aryan Nation, etc., etc., etc., and consider the Middle East the world's only breeding ground for terrorists.

6/29/2005 5:22 PM  
Blogger Mark Jones said...

Hey redneck (I mean Slant Point), I’ve got a great idea, since Afganistan is “taken care off”, why don’t u volunteer for a 6 month stint in Kunar province. Just think, you could be the most popular redneck in Kunar province!

6/29/2005 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I turned the TV sound all the way up a couple of times when Bush paused--I was wondering if he was waiting for a cheer from the troops--and heard nothing but silence.

6/29/2005 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe its because I was born in Ireland and live here in the U.S.A., but I can't look at Irish Republican Army, or the Real IRA, or the Troubles, or the Oklahoma City bombing, or the 4th Street Church bombing, or the Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney murders, or the KKK, or the Aryan Nation, etc., etc., etc., and consider the Middle East the world's only breeding ground for terrorists.

Very good point; but the Middle East is vital to our economic interests (especially Bush and the administration since they are all about oil), so we put our blinders on and pretend it is. You can't think logical here.

6/29/2005 7:18 PM  
Blogger brian said...

Slant point: If we can supposedly trace the regime-change goal back to Reagan, then how come during the Reagan Administration we sided w/ Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war (instead of NO ONE), gave him chemical weapons, and even sent high ranking officials to meet him?

Funny way of showing hostility, ain't it?

6/29/2005 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess Bush flip-flopped about timetables and exit strategies:

In 1999, Bush Demanded A Timetable

In 1999, George W. Bush criticized President Clinton for not setting a timetable for exiting Kosovo, and yet he refuses to apply the same standard to his war.

George W. Bush, 4/9/99:

“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”

And on the specific need for a timetable, here’s what Bush said then and what he says now:

George W. Bush, 6/5/99

“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”

[ed. note: article originally ran in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on 6/5/99]

VERSUS

George W. Bush, 6/24/05:

“It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you’re — you’re conceding too much to the enemy.”

6/30/2005 8:40 PM  
Anonymous ssyhere said...

Just a very nice post, nailed this language thing on the mark.

7/01/2005 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are not insurgents. They're criminal terrorist scumbags. Insurgents are what they are called by a leftist (I didn't say liberal because leftists aren't) press that sympatizes with anyone who hates the classical liberal model of free societies and free enterprise. Both the terrorists and their Western apologists suffer from an extreme case of ELITISM.

But I'm not surprised that a New York finanical guy can't figure this out. You might want to go read up on the folks who framed our country through its founding documents. They were not a bunch of snivelling Jeezo-grovellers but they knew how to call evil by its name without a flinch or an apology.

7/02/2005 5:19 AM  
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