the Star of Bush's "Façade Corps"
By Dennis Hans
most successful department in the Bush administration is,
without question, the Façade Corps.
This little-known operation is headquartered in the White
House basement, but its personnel are scattered throughout
the bureaucracies. The Façade Corps functions, in effect,
as a theatre company. Much like an actor on a stage, an FC
employee merely pretends to be, say, the director of the Environmental
Protection Agency. If the de facto director holds views that
citizens would find troublesome in an EPA director, the White
House will wisely keep him away from the news-media spotlight
while someone from the FC plays his part in public. Until
recently, in fact, his part was played, quite effectively,
by a her.
The FC is the brainchild of the president, but in keeping
with the imperative of a false front, Karl Rove is listed
as "Numero Uno" in the confidential FC staffing chart. Of
course, it's impossible to say that the confidential chart
is itself the real thing and not another false front, which
is always possible in an administration headed by the ultimate
false front: "straight shooter" George W. Bush.
But if the chart is what it purports to be, then Colin Powell
holds the rank of "lead performer," at an annual salary of
$3.1 million. The hefty price tag reflects Powell's strong
bargaining position in the summer of 2000, when he was first
offered the gig, pending a Bush victory that November. At
the time, Powell was raking in big bucks as part of a traveling
circus of "motivational speakers" that included Bill "Poppa
Needs a New Pair of Shoes" Bennett, which was packing sports
arenas around the country.
The FC chart shows that Powell is indeed merely playing
the role of "Secretary of State," the real job of which is
divided among a hodge-podge of extremists from various offices
who handle different issues and regions. Powell was an inspired
choice, for in real life he's hardly the yahoo that Bush,
were he a true straight shooter, would prefer. Rather, Powell
is a thoughtful, cautious and mainstream-establishment conservative
who projects an (undeserved) image of trustworthiness, which
plays considerably better with the American public and the
international community than the qualities associated with
the conniving creeps who actually run the various branches
of the State Department.
Allow me to introduce some of the people who are the true
formulators and implementers of U.S. foreign policy.
Latin America and the Caribbean are run by Roger Noriega,
a coup-crazy protégé of Jesse Helms, and Otto Reich, renowned
for his underhanded 1980s propaganda operation in the U.S.
media on behalf of Ronald Reagan's beloved and bloodthirsty
Nicaraguan contras. The Canadian account is handled by drug
czar John Walters, who shares Bush's belief that the greatest
non-WMD threat to the United States is Canada's insufficiently
stiff marijuana laws. Arms "control" is the baby of neocon
mad-bomber John Bolton.
Arab-Israeli issues are handled even-handedly by Elliott
Abrams, an Ariel Sharon enthusiast who in the 1980s proudly
deceived Congress about the Iran-Contra affair. Policies in
the Persian Gulf region are fleshed out by pro-democracy poseurs
Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby. Old Europe is charmed by Donald
Rumsfeld and New Europe by Paul Wolfowitz. Africa is left
to fend for itself, though Powell has been permitted to burnish
his image with a modest AIDS-fighting package in return for
performing the occasional dirty trick, such as putting out
a fake "Fact Sheet" framing the government of Niger as Saddam's
Speaking of Rumsfeld, one can tell he's the genuine Secretary
of Defense, rather than an FC actor, because the Pentagon
is not teeming with senior aides who reject Rummy's vision
of the world or the Pentagon's role in it. Anyone found to
be out of step soon finds himself out of a job.
What we know of Powell's actual views suggests that, were
he truly in charge of the State Department, he wouldn't entrust
any of these regions or issues to the men who are currently
fashioning policy. Instead, he'd field a team of cautious,
moderately conservative diplomats and ex-soldiers with area
expertise and establishment credentials.
Of course, that's what makes Powell such an invaluable member
of Bush's Façade Corps: Anyone can play a role he or she believes
in 100 percent. But it takes a real pro to be convincing when
you believe in few of the policies and positions you've been
directed to promote.
Yes, Powell is one heck of an actor. As for how he rates
as a public servant, well, that's another question entirely.
Dennis Hans (HANS_D@popmail.firn.edu)
writes serious and humorous stuff for fun and profit. He has
taught courses in mass communications and American foreign
policy at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg,
and he has a habit of being right before most anyone else,
having penned prior to the Iraq war the essays "Lying
Us Into War: Exposing Bush and His 'Techniques of Deceit'"