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With Bush, Staying "On Message" More Important Than Telling Truth

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JABBS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-12-05 01:04 AM
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With Bush, Staying "On Message" More Important Than Telling Truth
We've all heard the story about how George Washington admitted to his father that he chopped down a cherry tree. It's a straightforward story with a clear moral: people shouldn't lie.

I wonder if someday there will be a similar children's story regarding spin.

When members of the Bush Administration is caught telling a lie, misstating a fact, or make a bad prediction, the first instinct isn't to admit the mistake. Rather, it's to spin.

The reason for this is the administration's desire to stay "on message." Unhappy with the way Iraqis are handling the war? Get them "on message" with propaganda. Don't like what your top generals say about Iraqi troop self-sufficiency? Stay "on message," even if it means using creative math.

Back in August, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart provided a brilliant look at how the administration tries to stay "on message" by repeating the same catch-phrases over and over.

And let's face it, "staying on message" has worked wonders for George W. Bush. The "message" in 2000, for example, was to repeatedly ask the nation how many times Florida ballots should be "recounted," when they never were officially recounted in accordance with state law. Bush may never have been the nominee, of course, had it not been for South Carolinians being blanketed by the "message" about Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) -- that he was a Manchurian Candidate who had fathered a child with a black New York prostitute.

***

To see a full example of how the Bush Administration stays "on message," take a look at the Dec. 4 edition of Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace gave National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley three opportunities to admit Vice President Cheney made a mistake in May when he said the Iraqi insurgency was in its last throes."

But Hadley, the loyal soldier, knows that when faced with admitting a mistake, the first instinct is to spin. The results are almost comical:

Opportunity 1:

WALLACE: Last May, Vice President Cheney said the following, and lets put it up on the screen if we can, I think the level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think theyre in their last throes, if you will, of the insurgency. Since then, 462 American troops have died. The insurgency back in May was not in its last throes, was it?

HADLEY: One of the things the president did in his speech on Wednesday was to try and be clear about who is the enemy, who were up against, and he categorized it really in three ways

Opportunity 2:

WALLACE: But, Mr. Hadley, with respect, I dont think you answered my question. Was the vice president mistaken last May when he talked about an insurgency in its last throes, given the fact that almost 500 American troops have been killed since then?

HADLEY: The violence is continuing, as I said in my answer to the prior question. We have made clear we thought the violence was probably going to go up in this period.

Opportunity 3:

WALLACE: But doesnt that undercut the credibility of the administration, first of all, when the vice president talks about last throes, last May, and clearly it turns out it was wrong? And, with respect, theres an unwillingness for you to admit it was a mistake then. A lot of people say that this administration, even when its clearly mistaken, is never willing to say it was wrong. ...Was he wrong when he said that?

HADLEY: Well, look. What I think we can say is that there were indications that we are making progress against the insurgency.

***

What would have happened if George Washington had known the art of staying "on message?"

CAPT. AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON: George, did you cut down this cherry tree?

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Oh, father, must we be consumed with the success or failure of any one tree? Our family owns so much acreage. And yet there are children who starve. Are you suggesting that the fate of one diminuitive tree is greater than of a starving child?

CAPT. WASHINGTON: You have not answered my query, George. I note you are holding an axe in your hand. Is this not proof of your guilt?

GEORGE WASHINGTON: I do not believe that the question of guilt comes into play, father. For cherry trees have no legal rights in the commonwealth. I suppose you would defend this tree in a court of law, seeing as you place its value above that of the aforementioned starving children.

CAPT. WASHINGTON: I suggest no such thing! I merely wish to know whether you chopped down this cherry tree!

GEORGE WASHINGTON: You remain consumed with this one tree, whereas I would prefer to look at the success of all the surrounding trees. Perhaps you would do well to consider providing the fallen fruit of this one tree to the starving children you so willfully ignore!


***

Yes, it's a farce. George Washington's first instinct, as the story goes, was to tell the truth and admit wrongdoing, even for something as trivial as a cherry tree.

But another George, and those who surround him, don't have that same instinct.

***

This item first appeared at Journalists Against Bush's B.S.
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JABBS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-12-05 10:42 AM
Response to Original message
1. bump (because I first posted this after y'all went to sleep last night)
Edited on Mon Dec-12-05 10:43 AM by JABBS
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