September 3, 2002
By Mike Shannon
There are two kinds of liars. There is the larger group that
bends, twists, embellishes and otherwise reworks the truth
into something that either makes for a better story or helps
to cover a dangerously exposed posterior. Then there is the
thankfully smaller group; these are the people who takes positions
or make statements that are completely contrary to reality.
Like this guy I used to work with. When this guy told a fish
story it wasn't like when you and I do. He didn't just make
the fish bigger or the fight to land it more exciting; he
never even went fishing. The problem was he was the boss so
in order to maintain a tranquil work environment we all had
to stand around as he told these tales of his forays to some
parallel universe with a bemused look on our faces. Unfortunately,
and with far more grave consequences, that same principle
is now on daily display by our parallel President.
Watching Bush and Rumsfeld stand there in hot dusty wind
of Texas and look into the cameras and ask -- with a startling
decree of sincerity and incredulousness -- how this "churning/frenzy"
of speculation regarding Iraq came to be was just such a moment.
I imagine it must have taken enormous self control -- if it
didn't require such an effort than those present truly are
lap dogs -- for the reporters on hand not to laugh (or cry)
as their President so blatantly disregarded the truth.
Not that such behavior was not to expected.
Even if, for the purpose of this discussion, you accept the
legitimacy of the Bush Presidency it is impossible not to
be amazed by the audacity of its underlying mendacity. Mr
Bush was unelected in perhaps the most contentious election
in American history. Yet from the very earliest days of his
administration he has acted as though he had a clear and decisive
mandate. Working off an agenda that picked up from where Reagan/Bush
had left off eight years earlier as though no time had passed
-- and the conditions and world order had remained set in
place -- they quickly established as their modus operandi
the creation of well woven fictional rationalizations for
policies arrived upon as a matter of faith. Rather than have
the circumstances dictate the response, these people do what
it is they wish and then create a reason to justify it.
The Republican/corporate establishment wants to build a missile
defense; brand North Korea -- a nation that had up until that
point slowly but surely begun the process of reassimilation
with the world community -- as an imminent threat to national
security. You want to give a massive tax break to your wealthiest
supporters? Justify it by siting a -- grossly inflated mind
you -- budget surplus figures. The economy turns south and
the surplus disappears? Not a problem, just relabel the tax
cut as an economic stimulus.
This reshaping the argument to fit the moment is not unique
to the Bush administration but rarely has it been done in
such an obvious and oblivious manner. They not only are not
ashamed of their disingenuous nature they couldn't care less
that you think they should be.
And if they had been prone to even considering rethinking
their approach, the carnage of September 11th has proven to
be an endless source of cover for all manner of policy initiative.
The campaign to link the war on drugs to the financing of
global terrorism is an absurd case in point. How smoking homegrown
American pot is helping Bin Laden is beyond me.
The danger here, of course, is not that the federal government
is spending time or money on issues that are less than pressing
or in neglect of some that are. Now they have now moved under
the all forgiving umbrella of "national security". And as
any reading of history will tell you, no greater sins have
ever been committed by this nation than those committed in
the name of national security. And now we may very well be
doing all over again.
In spite of an ever growing chorus of restraint -- the comparison
made by those who are screaming for Hussein's overthrow to
the appeasement of Hitler is baseless. Czechoslovakia in particular
was pleading for western help as Hitler massed his rhetoric
and armor against them. With the exception of Israel, who
is perfectly capable of taking care of any threat from Iraq,
there is not one nation in Iraq's sphere of influence that
believes they are in imminent danger of military action by
Hussein -- the Bush administration seems hellbent on making
their deluded version of reality into an all too real nightmare.