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Bush's "Good News" Conference
October 31, 2003
By Sheila Samples

Scarcely a month after whining that the whole bloody mess in Iraq was the media's fault - a month wherein the administration bypassed the White House Press Corps and took its "good news" public relations campaign to local media and to US-controlled media sites in the Gulf - President Bush startled the media establishment with an abruptly-announced "news conference."

The few media who could make it to the Rose Garden on such short notice were grateful that their disciplinary "time out" seemed to be over. They grasped at sound bites and feverishly scribbled down worn-out BushCo talking points. For 48 minutes, Bush played "20 Questions" with hand-picked reporters who declined to ask probing questions or follow up on brazen lies lest they be banished, a la Helen Thomas, from the press corps kingdom.

An event at which both questions and answers are controlled is not a news conference; it's a public relations exercise. In this particular instance, it was a carefully orchestrated circus act - Bush, the fearless leader with whip and chair in hand, and the media cats quivering on their chairs.

The only news worth repeating came in Bush's opening remarks when he shamelessly announced that our allies understood the importance of our continuing "work" in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Liberating the people of those nations from dictatorial regimes was an essential step in the war on terror," Bush said, nodding his head wisely. "The world is safer today because Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are gone."

Aha! Any journalist who isn't brain dead will call him on that one, I thought. Everybody knows we attacked Afghanistan because Saudi Arabia is an evil regime... and nobody seems to know why we attacked Iraq - least of all George W. Bush.

Now would be a good time for him to clear up these pesky little items. Maybe he could even explain in what way scattering innocent body parts all over the international landscape for no good reason - at least not one that the parties involved can agree upon - makes the world safer. Maybe he can explain why the United Nations suspended operations just this week in four southern Afghan provinces because of increasing violence and danger to aid workers.

But nooo. The first question out of the box was a deferential, "Can you identify who's behind (the recent) surge of attacks, where they came from and how to stop them?"

Well, it's easy to see how this guy earned his seat on the front row. What better way to open a Bush news conference than to put him at ease by giving him an opportunity to lecture the captive audience on the nature of a terrorist? Lord, yes, he knows who's behind the attacks - terrorists! "They're trying to send a warning... to cause people to run. They want to kill and create chaos. That's the nature of a terrorist," he said dreamily. "That's what terrorists do. They commit suicide acts against innocent people and then expect people to say, 'Well, gosh, we better not try to fight you anymore.'"

After speculating that "they're either, or, and probably both" Baathists and foreign terrorists, Bush lamely admitted that, even though he didn't have a clue who was behind the attacks, he knew they hated freedom. Yep. That's it, all right. People are desperately blowing themselves up; killing everything in sight - because they hate peace and fear freedom. The obvious question that wasn't asked was, "How do you know what they hate and fear if you don't know who they are?"

And so it went. Why aren't Syria and Iran being held accountable for their terrorists? (we're working on that) ... why are you stonewalling the 9-11 Commission? (we're working on procedures) ... What about that "Mission Accomplished" sign on the USS Abe Lincoln? (Not me - that was the Navy's sign saying their mission was accomplished. That sign had nothing to do with me and I had nothing to do with that sign) ...

George Orwell had it right. People believe what you condition them to believe - what you put into their minds. They learn not to trust their own lying eyes. And no subject underscores that truth more tragically than what the media dutifully reports about the slaughter in the Middle East. When asked about his biased policies toward Israel, Bush launched into his scripted, inane, and totally incomprehensible spiel about how Palestine must first stop the terrorism so they can "live side by side with Israel."

He brushed aside an apologetic question about "the fence," which is in reality a formidable 200-mile wall intended to separate Palestinians from their land and means of making a living, and when completed, will slice through the eastern side of the West Bank and cut off the Jordan valley, leaving Palestinian "concentration camp" pockets completely surrounded by Israel. "I have said that the fence is a problem," Bush admitted, "and I have spoken to Prime Minister Sharon about it..."

Move on. Nothing to discuss here. Given Bush's doctrine on WMD and on what constitutes a terrorist regime, why would he discuss the only nuclear power in the Middle East... the only country in the region that refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty... the only country that defiantly refuses to allow inspection of its nuclear facilities... the only country that gives the finger to United Nations resolutions... the only country that occupies land belonging to its neighbors, and the only country that continues to attack and destroy its neighbors without fear of retribution every single day?

Terrorists, Bush says, "rely on the death of innocent people to create the conditions of fear that therefore will cause people to lose their will. That's their strategy," he said, "and it's a pretty clear strategy to me..."

This particular strategy - a major facet of Bush's war doctrine - is also becoming "pretty clear" to a majority of Americans. When asked about the upcoming election, Bush wrapped up the news fiasco by bragging that he was looking forward to defending his record at the appropriate time. "I'll say that the world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership, and America is more secure, and that'll be how I'll begin describing our foreign policy. As you know, these are open forums, you're able to come and listen to what I have to say."

However, although there are people on the ground getting ready for his second coming, he says there is plenty of time. "In terms of the balloon drops and all that business," he said, "you know, it's going to take - it'll be a little while for me to be catching the confetti, as they say."

I can hardly wait. And, it is my fervent hope that this clueless warmonger catches his share of tar and feathers long before anyone starts throwing confetti at him.


Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer, a former US Army Public Information Officer and an Axis of Logic contributing editor.

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