Democratic Underground

Bafflegap, Doublespeak And Yackity-Yack
June 7, 2001
by Susan Sigandres

You know what I like about George W. Bush? Nothing. Not that I've tried very hard to find something positive about the guy, mind you. I'm fed up with futile activities, like voting and looking to our corporate-owned right wing "press" for real information. Finding any redeeming quality whatsoever in W is doomed before I even start the search.

Let me tell you who I think does have redeeming qualities, though. Ari Fleischer. Now, before anyone starts to argue, let me state my reasons. To start with, you've just got to love the fact that he wore a Yankee hat in Midland, Texas. That's a ballsy move. Of course it would be even ballsier if he wore his Yankee hat in New York City because he might just get throttled. Well, at least Ari shows some signs that he's got spunk, if not guts. It makes me wonder if he would actually have gone off to fight for this country if there had been a war when he came of age. Then at least the junta would have a veteran to call its own.

Next, you have to admit that at least Fleischer brings some personality to W's otherwise dull-as-dishwater crew. Relatively speaking, he's a veritable spark of life that leaves those of us who watch his news conferences on C-Span absolutely riveted. This is especially true if you turn off the volume and watch his facial expressions closely - sometimes they change.

I foresee a great future for Ari in front of the camera. He just might be the only one worthy of stepping into the host role of one of the liveliest shows ever on television - Firing Line. Here's something that will send chills up your spine: Imagine William F. Buckley interviewing Ari Fleischer for an entire hour. Now imagine that the only alternative channels on TV for you to watch are corporate-owned right-wing propaganda outlets. Now that would truly be a sign of big trouble for our nation.

Another thing about Fleischer: You cannot deny that he is a man who totally believes in his principles. He comes from a family of middle class Democrats. Try to imagine just how inspiring Ari finds W to have abandoned his own family's values to take up W's. But there's more: Ari comes from a Jewish family and now he's a minion of a family that found the road to riches by financing Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Wow! Despite the beliefs his parents tried to teach him and the fact that he's alive only because his recent ancestors were lucky to escape the gas chambers is undeniable proof that Ari really does believe in W.

Now consider another potentially redeeming quality: His acting ability. While the GOP can claim success in turning such bastions of the thespian craft as Ronald Reagan and Fred Thompson into semi-functional politicos, never before has the GOP attempted to turn a political operative into an actor. This is ambitious indeed. Anyone who truly appreciates the difficulty of making fiction believable will certainly appreciate the challenge confronting Ari. Goodness knows, the White House Office of Damage Control (ODC) has given him a very diverse array of scripts from which to read at his news conferences.

First there was innuendo - convince people that there was damage done by departing White House staffers. Then, when you get caught in the lie, get indignant and say that you'll compile a list of transgressions by asking unnamed members of your own staff to recall the "damage" five months after it didn't happen. That's a tough one, to be fair. And Ari failed miserably. But give him a break, he's been under a lot of stress lately.

All in a matter of days, poor Ari had to express shock, then disappointment, then outrage at Jim Jeffords' "sudden" abandonment of the party. It's not so easy to convince everyone that the ODC is on top of things when a respected Senate veteran bolts from your party for the express purpose of disassociating himself from your boss and the rest of the rabid right now at the GOP's helm and who are your boss's only friends.

Also, Ari had to pretend that his master, W, was simply delighted to invite Senate Majority Leader Daschle to the White House for a frank, "bipartisan" discussion of how the government's agenda will be reshuffled. As if that wasn't enough, Ari also had to threaten the press outright in an effort to discourage stories about the ongoing struggle W's kids are having with alcohol and pot.

This is truly a broad range of content for Ari to deliver. And then of course, he?s got an almost insurmountable credibility challenge to overcome, thanks to Jake Tapper. In a now frequently quoted line from the book Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency, Tapper noted that Fleischer has "an on again, off again relationship with the truth."

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