It’s pretty clear by now that the "W" in between George and Bush doesn’t stand for Webster. Just when you thought you understood the peculiar presentations of Bush the Younger, you hear and see him (and his spokespinners) communicate in such a way that you simply tilt your head doglike and stare. In times like these, we may be experiencing the actual world of a dog listening to a gramophone — good-natured curiosity belying unbridgeable vacuity.
Of course, this isn’t fair to dogs, who probably understand a bit more than we do about what is going on. Barney, the president’s little black doggie, could teach conservatives a few things about what it feels like to be held close to the President’s heart and then dropped like so much, well, little black doggie on a hot tarmac.
At least Mr. Bush picked Barney up, apologized and learned his lesson. This kind of response, however, should not be expected by conservative-leaning Republicans, small government and non-imperialist libertarians, or classical liberals. We have been dropped and abandoned so consistently that the administration is probably wondering why the animal control officer hasn’t hauled our hides to the pound and put us up for adoption.
Strangely, Dubya seems to think the kind of canine loyalty he may have read about in Jack London novels is a political factor he can take to the bank, or at least back to the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
If what is called the conservative base in this country sends Bush back for another four year vacation in Crawford, with side trips to D.C., it can only be chalked up to a real misunderstanding of Bush’s politics. But those politics really aren’t hard to understand. We can do it with only two samples. The Alpha and Omega of Bushtalk will serve. For Alpha, we have his December 13, 2000, victory speech, and fortunately, as of last Sunday night, we now have Omega.
Bush stated in 2000 "I am proud to have Dick Cheney by my side, and America will be proud to have him as our next vice president." Not the same Dick Cheney who lied to Congress and set up his old friends at Halliburton to profit without complicated bidding and competition in Iraq? Americans may feel like doing a variety of things about the man behind the green curtain, but ordering an "I’m proud of Dick Cheney" T-shirt isn’t one of them.
Bush told us: "Together, guided by a spirit of common sense, common courtesy and common goals, we can unite and inspire the American citizens." He told us, but he forgot to tell Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle, denizens of the "other" State Department across the River Styx, those would-be instructors from the Genghis Khan School of Diplomacy. Common sense, common courtesy and common goals would have come in handy about 18 months ago. Heck, they would come in handy right now!
Bush intoned: "Together we will save Social Security and renew its promise of a secure retirement for generations to come." Maybe that was for the second term, what with the ceiling busting deficits and growth in spending.
Bush gushed: "I will be guided by President Jefferson’s sense of purpose, to stand for principle, to be reasonable in manner, and above all, to do great good for the cause of freedom and harmony." I think this was the punch line. Unless he was sending a coded message to his corporate supporters.
From Alpha, we turn to Omega, and clearly Dubya’s latest address was not a victory speech. Omega was a well-practiced story for Daddy after wrecking the family car after swearing it wouldn’t happen, there was no way he would run into a quagmire. Really, Pops!
This time, the speech contained fewer promises, and the lies were more transparent. Its single-minded purpose was to convince doubtful Americans that the war on terror and the occupation of Iraq are ONE AND THE SAME, and worth it to the tune of $4 billion smacks a month, plus a little extra. About $87 billion extra we don’t have in coming months, plus future uncountable dead and injured Americans and Iraqis. Whatever.
In spite of almost three years of classified briefings and full time focus on the world around us, Bush and his speechwriters have learned nothing about Iraq, the Middle East, the nature and source of terrorism, and the kinds of responses and environments that produce it, and can reduce it. Parroting Sharon and Netanyahu, and failed tyrants throughout history, Bush believes a show of "strength" and "precision" retaliation without actual justice and freedom of industry, education and movement trumps terrorism and reduces motivation for general resistance and guerilla tactics.
Bush said he has eliminated the secret police in Iraq, but he forgot to tell Jerry Bremer who is building more jails than even Saddam thought necessary to hold all the Iraqis we have arrested. Bremer also vouchsafes all jobs, investments, and security (granted, all rare in occupied Iraq) while demanding the people inform on a long list of Ba’athists and other neighbors. Bush says the Iraqis have freedom. Until we leave, they don’t.
Like Nipper in the picture above, I am listening to the President’s voice with grave concern. We once had something like a free market Republic, but all evidence now points to a maturing fascist state flexing its muscles. Of course, we can’t entirely blame Dubya for the long march to fascism — but his politics, methods and banality convince me that he will be the first to get bitten, and bitten hard, by once loyal dogs.
It takes a lot to turn on the master. Neo-con running dog Bill Kristol has already done it, after he and the neo-conservative cadre pushed for their bloody war of reshaping the Middle East because they knew best, and had a unique political shot for the security of Israel that would personally cost them nothing (hell, some of them stood to make a few bucks on the deal).
But it could be the start of a healthy trend for the rest of America. Growling, snarling, snapping and refusal to obey is the antidote to the fascist master. Barney, lead us!
Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley.