Bush's Same Old Song
"There are no T-shirts for this concert tour, but if there were, the venue list on the back would make for one of the weirder souvenirs in rock & roll history. U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, November 30th, no advance publicity, closed audience: check. Here at the Omni, December 7th, again no advance warning, handpicked audience, ten reporters max (no one else knew about it), with even the cashiers in the hotel's coffee shop unaware of the president's presence: check. Dates three and four, venues and dates unknown for security reasons: check and check.
This is how President Bush takes his message to the people these days: in furtive sneak-attack addresses to closed audiences of elite friendlies at weird early-morning hours. If you want to catch Bush's act in person during this tour, you have to stalk him for days and keep both ears open for last-minute changes of plan; I actually missed the Annapolis speech when I made the mistake of briefly taking my eye off him the day before."
Only friendly audiences. Limited reporters. No questions. Sound bites for television. It seem more like PR than policy. Oh wait, it is PR.
"In the Obey Your Thirst/Image Is Everything era of American politics, Bush's National Victory campaign is a creepy innovation. It features the president thumping a document -- the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" -- that was largely written not by diplomats or generals but by a pair of academics from Duke University named Peter Feaver and Christopher Gelpi. Essentially a PR document, the paper is basically a living political experiment, designed to prove that Americans will more readily accept military casualties if the word "victory" is repeated a great many times in public.
"This is not really a strategy document from the Pentagon about fighting the insurgency," Gelpi told The New York Times. "The document is clearly targeted at American public opinion."Taking his PR document in hand, who makes the grade and is allowed to hear first hand the National Victory Strategy? When Bush cracked open the plan at the Council on Foreign Relations, the audience included lots of ordinary rich right wing military industrial complex Republican fat cats.
"The Council on Foreign Relations was good enough to pass out a list of the expected attendees at the speech. Here are some of the names that one could find in Bush's audience: Frank Finelli, the Carlyle Group; Adam Fromm, Office of Rep. Dennis Hastert; Robert W. Haines, Exxon Mobil Corp.; Paul W. Butler, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP; Robert Bremer, Lockheed Martin Corp.; Scott Sendek, Eli Lilly and Co.; James H. Lambright, Export-Import Bank of the United States.
The point is obvious; Bush's audience was like a guest list for a Monster's Ball of the military-industrial establishment. And even in this crowd full of corporate lawyers, investment bankers, weapons makers, ex-spooks and, for Christ's sake, lobbyists, the president of the United States couldn't cook up more than two tepid applause lines for his Iraq policy -- and one of those was because he was finishing up and, one guesses, freeing the audience to go call their brokers."
There lots more insight into the way the Bush Administration works in this excellent piece, including how the National Victory campaign is playing in the White House pressroom. One final excerpt and then go read it yourself.
"I'd been following the national tour for more than a week. If the reception at the Omni was stale, that was nothing compared to how it was going over in the White House briefing room. On the day before the Omni speech, I actually worried that gopher-faced administration spokescreature Scott McClellan might be physically attacked by reporters, who appeared ready to give official notice of having had Enough of This Bullshit.
In fact the room at one point seemed on the verge of a Blazing Saddles-style chair-throwing brawl when McClellan refused to answer the cheeky question of why, if we weren't planning on torturing war-on-terror detainees in foreign prisons, we couldn't just bring them back to be incarcerated in the United States."
If only this were a rock tour and not the government of the most powerful nation on the planet.Impeachment is our only hope.
Big hat tip to Down With Tyranny.