of the Not-So-Innocent
March 14, 2002
By Morris Smith
A lot has been made of the way Bush played the media like
saps during the campaign. It jumps right out at you that they
were doing the political version of Good Cop/Bad Cop, where
Bush's handlers played the Bad Cop and were careful to make
sure that the candidate got to play the Good Cop...
It seems so obvious now that you have to wonder: were George's
henchmen that good, or was a credulous press eager to be played?
The answer is both.
It's best illustrated in that celebrated incident where Bush
comforts Alexandra Pelosi after she's ostracized by the journalist
pack. Pelosi was a NBC producer who was taping the Presidential
campaign of the soon-to-be Thief-in-Chief.
She committed a heinous crime in Bush circles: she told the
truth. Pelosi organized an informal poll that revealed that
most of the press-types on board didn't believe Bush had a
prayer... and then published the results. After being shunned
by a spectacularly craven press corp for fear of the fallout
with the Bushies, the Head Bushie himself came to her defense
and declares that he's the only real friend she has left.
"When they see me talking to you, they're gonna act like
they're your friends again. But these people aren't your friends.
They can say what they want about me but at least I know who
I am, and I know who my friends are."
It's easy to look at this episode and think, as E.J. Dionne
says, that Bush is a lot smarter than we give him credit for.
The way he manipulated the press was masterful; he made them
his lap dogs (in that way, one might say they were his "bitches").
But that's only one explanation. The other (and more likely,
I believe) is that Bush's people not only handle the media,
but also their boss. It's quite likely that even Bush doesn't
know the strategery, but just does what he's told.
So instead of being in on the skullduggery, it's probably
simply the case that Karen Hughes pointed out Pelosi and said,
"Boy, she looks pretty lonely... Why don't you go over and
cheer her up?"
Bush goes over and does his patented "I'm jes' a reg'lar
guy" routine (made all the more credible by the fact that
he has no clue about the maniacal plotting going on all around
him) and the next thing you know, the press is bending over
backwards for him... and of course, they've never stopped.
So to answer the above question, yes, the Bush team is great
at sowing confusion and obsfuscation, (its what jackals do
best), and, yes, the media is more than happy to have Bush
make fools of them to keep in his good graces.
Of course, none of this excuses Bush from the actions of
his subordinates... The fact that he's too dense to realize
what's going on is more damning, not less. It means he's truly
reached a Reaganesque stature.
Karl Rove once said that George W. Bush "was the kind of
candidate and officeholder that political hacks like me wait
a lifetime to be associated with."
Indeed. Pliable, uncurious, obedient, and loyal. Everything
you would look for in the family pet. Incapable of understanding
what's going on around him even if he wanted to. All he knows
is what he's told. All he does is what they tell him. Its
their job to get him into power. His only job is to not embarrass
them too much.
The press isn't interested in finding out the truth about
this pretender. Which makes his job that much easier. He doesn't
have to stretch in the least to convince the press he's above
the machinations... he's just a happy-go-lucky guy.
And why shouldn't he be? After all, ignorance is bliss.
Morris Smith is Editor and Webmaster of SurfLiberal.com