Saturday, March 05, 2005

The "Bush Bubble" and the "Bush Pledge": "Amerika," Love It or Leave It

The wise Man draws more Advantage from his Enemies, than the Fool from his Friends.--Poor Richard

This post is a continuation of a thread that developed in the comments to Jay Rosen's Decertifying the Press, Continued:

Sisyphus writes:
Jay: "He left out excessive credulity on the Weapons of Mass Destruction story, which is on most people's list of recent press failures. That, of course, was Bush's fault."

Well, yes and no. The excessive credulity about Iraq's WMD capability had existed for more than a decade. If we are to believe the CIA reports (and I do) Saddam did not have stockpiles or significant programs since soon after Desert Storm. Yet, we bombed Iraq's alleged stockpiles and programs in 1998 during Desert Fox.

My point is that the excessive credulity by the press existed before the Bush administration, became a Master Narrative among the press, and played along nicely with the continuity of the Bush administration's rhetoric about Iraq.

How excessive the shared credulity among the Bush administration, the press, and many nation's intelligence services was is less material to critics, I think, than the fact that it was proven wrong. It's somehow not surprising that for some, suddenly, this credulity was solely the Bush administration's doing.

But if you like, I can provide links to Clinton, Congress, and news stories using what we now know was excessively credulous rhetoric about Iraq's WMD program throughout the 90's to 2001.

You might also be interested in re-reading some of Blix's comments in the two months preceding the war here and here.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2005 09:40 AM | Permalink

Jay,
You are beginning to record chapter and verse in support of the fairly self-evident thesis that Howard Kurtz is indeed both anti-intellectual and hacktackular. Adamant REFUSAL of historical context in the name of remembering precedent is clearly a popular trope along this line. For hacks like Kurtz, anecdote is not the singular of data, it replaces both interpretive framework AND data. Thanks for making this as crystal clear as it could possibly be.

The president's partisans suggest that insulating him from questioning is a sign of authentic politics (our chosen political leaders) taking back control of politics from our un-elected press corps. I suggest it is cowardice and PR in the guise of politics. But what kind of politics are we framing as authentic when it means only pre-screened Republibots are allowed in to "public" events covered by the press? This is a new totalitarian definition of the "public" staged for a compliant, coopted media.

The WMD scam is yet another instance of Bush Republicans (there are honest Republicans out there who do not fall in this category) trying to blame others for not knowing what Bush hides from them--his four years in office have produced an absolutely unprecedented classification state on steroids (by repeating the canard that NOBODY knew, Sisyphus demands entrance into the disingenuous Bush Republican category). And then thmselves refusing to believe their eyes and ears when Bush's mendacity is revealed. Nice work if you can get it. This adamant refusal of counter-evidence (Lukasiak is right, if you were awake in March 2003, it was clearly BS by the time of invasion http://www.furnitureforthepeople.com/blairetc.htm) means that Bush Republican attitudes toward Bush begin to smack of popery.

Are Bush Republicans trying to decertify themselves as parties that support democracy by redefining "authentic" democracy as the absence of public debate and opposition?

The "Bush bubble" does not travel well to foreign countries. It is pretty far-fetched to conclude from this that those countries that refuse to treat Bush like a dictator in the manner he requires hate democracy. Do you Bush Republicans REALLY want to claim that the "Bush bubble is democracy, love it or leave it"? Or do you want to reconsider your hearty amens to the righteousness of the decertification you simultaneously claim isn't happening?

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 4, 2005 12:17 PM | Permalink

Mark Anderson: "by repeating the canard that NOBODY knew, Sisyphus demands entrance into the disingenuous Bush Republican category"

How fascinating, and yet I didn't write that. To say that I'm repeating "NOBODY knew" is your canard, not mine.

In fact, it is clearly a disingenuous act on your part, demanding entrance to ... what? It seems silly to even write such a thing.

Drive on Mark. Enjoy the ride. Please don't make me a passenger, ok?

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2005 12:39 PM | Permalink

Sisyphus,
OK, let's say the issue is "excessive credulity" regarding Iraqi WMD rather than "nobody knew." The IAEA had absolutely debunked the "mushroom cloud" bullshit Bush was pedaling, the main scare tactic. After he was called on his b***shit, Cheney, Rice, and company kept right on lying about it. The fictitiousness of the mushroom cloud line is a matter of fact. You can't hide radiation. The administration's response was, how can we rat-fuck the IAEA and UNSCOM most effectively? You are citing Blix, who opposed invasion, in support of how unclear the evidence supposedly was. Do you trust his judgment or not?

Dragging in the Clinton era red herring of excessive credulity regarding WMDs BEFORE INSPECTORS WENT BACK IN is a refusal of Bush's clear personal responsibility for the hysteria over the debunked mushroom cloud scenario and effective refusal to hold Bush responsible for rolling out the Iraq invasion "product" on the basis of the "mushroom cloud" lie. The reference to Blix is after the inspectors started but before they finished and uses Blix's information to draw a conclusion completely opposed to his. You are also resting your argument on a man THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS ACTIVELY TRYING TO DISCREDIT IN THE ROVEAN SCORCHED EARTH MANNER THEY TREATED WILSON/PLAME. Don't you see a little difficulty here?

The Bush decertification bubble was at the heart of selling the BS and creating a disinformed public and congress. Scoffing at Kerry's vote for war is a condemnation of Bush. Kerry's problem was that he believed Bush's lies. Bush was effectively saying, "How can you vote in Congress based on the lies I approved and the secrecy of the classification state I created and call yourself serious world leader material?" And really, how could he? That is precisely why Kerry was not a credible candidate. He took Bush and his chronic mendacity seriously. He and the Democratic primary voters in Iowa were nearly as responsible for the Iraq psychosis as embedded reporters stateside.

Your argument that the problem was excessive credulity has one ENORMOUS problem: THERE WERE MILLIONS OF US PROTESTING IN THE STREETS AGAINST THE INVASION AROUND THE WORLD WHO WERE NOT EXCESSIVELY CREDULOUS. Your argument disappears the entire anti-war protest movement. It is true of Bush Republicans, though not Scrowcroft Republicans. It is true of Democratic Leadership Council Democrats, though not of Dean Democrats. The anti-war protesters knew then, we know now, and you're still not making sense.

If the problem was excessive credulity as you say, you should be correcting yourself and saying, "Damn, those anti-war protesters were right after all. Good Job!" That's not exactly what I'm hearing from you.

"Excessive credulity" is a Bush Republican avoidance of responsibility. Your argument is a "nothing new under the Bush sun" argument in denial of decertification of the press and agreed upon facts. Nothing has changed, so Bush is not responsible for anything.

You are ultimately using the effect of Bush's decertification of the press as an excuse for Bush's behavior! "We've had excessive credulity about Iraqi WMDs since Clinton so nothing can ever be Bush's responsibility." It effectively asks, "Why didn't you know Bush was lying when he distorted or classified all relevant evidence and conducted character assassination of anyone whose opinion differed!?" Well, the answer is, several million of us did know.

I'm beginning to think allergy to personal responsiblity for the consequences (not the intentions) of one's actions is the core value of Bush Republicanism.

You seat yourself in the Bush Republican jalopy. Whether or not you enjoy the ride will be up to you. You are free to step out at anytime.

Update:
Sisyphus wanted me to put this last post up on this blog verbatim as a condition of his commenting in response. I will put my added comments here so that condition is met.

Sisyphus,
First, the decision for war came long before the Bush Administration even bothered to write up the official intelligence estimate that put bogus Office of Special Operations "intel" ahead of considered opinion in the CIA. You concede that the CIA was probably right about the WMD situation, so we at least agree about the facts on the ground, if not the credulity and responsibility for it. Ray McGovern, Porter Goss as CIA Director?

Second, the Clinton administration DID lay the groundwork for the invasion of Iraq. Clinton guilt does not in any way diminish Bush's responsbility. And the comparison only serves to make Bush look worse. Clinton wasn't ignorant enough to start a war over it, hence the Project for a New American Century's contempt for him. I am conceding your point that the groundwork started before Bush, and I'm telling you it means Clinton is made mistakes and Bush took it to a new order of magnitude by starting a war over it. Did Clinton blow $300 million dollars on favors for campaign donors in the name of Iraqi reconstruction and actively obstruct retrieval of taxpayer funds? No. Did Clinton send 1500 Americans to their deaths to gain 14 permanent bases in Iraq? No. (That why PNAC hated him.) Did Clinton have CIA reports supporting the decisions he made? Yes. Did Bush? No.

I have no problem calling out stupid Democratic foreign policy, especially when it comes from Republican Lite Democratic Leadership Council types like Clinton. That means Bush must be stopped for starting a war over the same idiocy Clinton used to rattle rubble with Tomahawk missiles.

Chomsky was right when he criticized Clinton for his belligerence:
Noam Chomsky responded, "I think the major reasons [for the use of force] are the usual ones. The US and its increasingly pathetic British lieutenant want the world to understand -- and in particular want the people of the Middle East region to understand -- that What We Say Goes,, as Bush [Sr.] defined his New World Order while the missiles were raining on Baghdad in February 1991. The message, clear and simple, is that we are violent and lawless states, and if you don't like it, get out of our way. It's a message of no small significance. Simply have a look at the projections of geologists concerning the expanding role of Middle East oil in global energy production in the coming decades ... The manner and timing of the attack were also surely intended to be a gesture of supreme contempt for the United Nations, and a declaration of the irrelevance of international law or other obligations; that too has been understood. The bombing was initiated as the Security Council met in emergency session to deal with the crisis in Iraq, and even its permanent members were not notified. Joshua Frank, Bombs Ahoy...Iraq, from Clinton to Bush.

If you were seriously on the right track, Sisyphus, PNAC should have been tight with Clinton. After all, he started exactly what they wanted to finish in the worst way (and they did proceed to "finish it" in the worst way). Why exactly didn't that Clinton-PNAC thing work out again? You are making a great case for why you should have been a supporter of significant aspects of the Clinton foreign policy I opposed. I'm guessing it's not too likely you were down with Clinton's foreign policy. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Rice and Cheney's nuclear reconstitution statements involving Niger clearly flew in the face of CIA reports on the issue. You and I appear to agree on this point.

It was the forged Niger documents that formed the fake basis for the disinformation campaign led by Cheney and Rice claiming preemptive war was the only logical choice given the alternative possibility of "mushroom clouds" in the US. Neglecting Intelligence, Ignoring Warnings, Center for American Progress

Cheney cited a non-existent IAEA report to claim a six-month time frame for Iraqi development of nuclear weapons. Judith Miller jumped into the breach to back this up with more fake intelligence from Iraqi defectors designated by Ahmed Chalabi (which the source himself had previously contradicted, and which operation was probably supervised by the Pentagon Office of Special Plans). Fake intelligence became fake news became administration recognition a fake reality that must be responded to with preemptive war. (Amy and David Goodman, Fatal Error, Lies of the Times, Democracy Now!) When the New York Times and Judith Miller are so clearly working as a Pentagon Office of Special Operations front, the Bush administration's campaign to decertify the press is effectively a counterintelligence operation against the Pentagon and the US government itself. The "aluminum tubes for nuclear centrifuges" canard was flying like the missile tubes they were actually designed to become. This claim was shot down by El Baradei and the IAEA. John Macarthur, The Lies We Bought, Columbia Journalism Review.

Lastly, there are countless instances where Clinton WAS just as mistaken as Bush Republicans on countless different issues. That proves that the Democratic Leadership Council was Republican Lite and that Ken Starr and the shock troops were again running counter-intelligence against their own cause. Your point would be?