Bush Power

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Since George
Bush took office way back in 2001, I have been trying to understand
his source of success. I simply could not figure how he won elections
and re-elections. To put it very simply, he just does not seem to
bring much to the plate. He had no success in any of his business
ventures. His oil
company
went bust because it could not find oil. His reign with
his baseball
team
, The Texas Rangers involved some sweetheart land deals
that included manipulating investors. His fictional military
career
was generally a farce. And he has a history of DUI
and reported drug
abuse
. His public speaking skills are the topic of many comedians'
jokes.
His butchering of the English language has inspired collections
of Bushisms. For most
people, this combination of attributes would send a job rsum straight
to the shredder.

While there
may be more, I have identified six of the most prominent reasons
that seem to behave much like the pistons of the engine that drives
the Bush machine. First, Bush has a simple agenda. He is a follower
of the KISS rule: Keep It Simple and Stupid. As William Saletan
put it in Slate
Magazine's November 3, 2004 edition: "He gives the same
speech every time. His sentences are short and clear." Later,
"What you and I see as unreflectiveness, [his supporters]
see as transparency. They trust him."

The simple
style of Bush is well-suited for television. This synopsis from
Ron
Kaufman
delineates the simplistic modus operandi of Bush on
television: "As the most simplistic of all media, TV can
only handle the most uncomplicated of ideas. TV thrives on breasts
and beer so comments are short and concepts are brief. Because most
people in America get their news from TV the Republican Party hammered
down their message to one that was clear and cable-ready: u2018Terrorists
could attack America at any moment. George W. Bush will keep you
safe. George W. Bush is a good Christian.' That was the message
and it worked." For the average American couch potatoes
who limited their political news to the commercials presented during
American Idol, those brief, KISS-style spots were just enough
to convince them Simple George was the best choice.

On the flip
side of the political coin we found John Kerry with a message so
complicated that many Americans could not recognize where he stood.
As Saletan further stated: "John Kerry went on and on, adding
one prepositional phrase after another until nobody could remember
what he was talking about." I am reminded of the days of
Dwight Eisenhower twice defeating Adlai Stevenson and recall my
father telling me that Stevenson was too smart (an egghead) and
did not connect with the voting public, whereas Ike the war hero
and "I Like Ike" buttons were understood by all. This
inability to define Kerry's position left respected newspapers supporting
Bush. Supporting Bush by default is the same as employing conventional
wisdom. As Kaufman illustrated: "Conventional wisdom is
often related closely with the phenomenon of Talking Points …statements
that are repeated over and over become Conventional Wisdom regardless
of whether or not they are true." This approach sealed
a Republican victory. America would do well to recall that the Talking
Points method was what sold the public on Saddam Hussein's threat
to our country, including his desire to nuke us or dump clouds of
poisonous gas onto our cities. By repeatedly saying it was true
ad nauseam, the public as well as the main stream media started
repeating the lies until it became accepted as common knowledge.

The second
characteristic of the Bush presidency that keeps him afloat is tied
to the concept of sunk cost fallacy and how this applies to supporting
wars. While writing an earlier
piece
on this topic, it became clear to me that sunk cost fallacy
works in the favor of war hawks. For the non-veteran, this may be
difficult to understand but it works like this: A soldier is not
in the business of debating or questioning the highfalutin morals
of a military action. The combat soldier is betting his/her life
every day on the premise that what they are doing is right. If you
think about that for a moment, it becomes clear why veterans' groups
support the administration's decisions to go to war and to stay
in war. A combat soldier goes through so much training that the
first time he/she is confronted with taking a life, it is an automatic
action. This is achieved by training the individual to follow orders
without question.

And on the
topic of following orders, every armed forces member is required
to obey the order of any officer who outranks him/her. The top link
in the chain of command or the commander every armed forces member
has to obey is the president. Therefore, it only follows that the
military, both active and retired, is conditioned to support the
president. We can likely add the military's families and dependants
to this group as well because the spouses and families are conditioned
to support the beliefs of the service member. I believe this circumstance
is amplified when the nation is at war. It takes total concentration
and dedication to the immediate task of kill-or-be-killed to survive
combat duty. The soldier becomes a believer in his/her role because
the only place for the non-believer could be a body bag. The combat
soldier becomes a victim of sunk cost fallacy due to the complete
investment made in his/her war experience. The totality of that
investment is the daily gamble of the soldier's life for the war
effort. Due to the training and the unique experiences of war vets,
a war hawk administration has a ready pool of supporters. Most of
the men I served with in Vietnam were in agreement that as much
as we hated that war, we hated going through the airports where
the peaceniks taunted every guy in uniform far more. To some degree,
the combat soldier has the choice of either becoming a war supporter
by virtue of being in the war or going insane. Part of the potential
insanity comes from the premise that a soldier has to accept the
correctness of his nation's choice to go to war. If the soldier
does not believe the war is the morally correct action then rightfully
or otherwise, the soldier might have to own the guilt of his/her
actions. Killing in war is right but if the war is wrong, then the
killing was murder. To illustrate how deeply engrained the war becomes
into the combat soldier it could be said that the soldier becomes
the war as does the war becomes the combat soldier. The distinction
between the two entities becomes obscure. In a sense, no one truly
survives a war.

The sunk cost
fallacy works to the war hawks advantage with the civilians as well.
Some people believe that because we have given so many American
lives (not to mention enemy and civilian lives) to the cause that
we owe it to them to continue the war until it is won. Combine them
with the many Americans who possess a good work ethic and feel the
need to complete every job we start. Now throw in the element of
blind jingoistic patriotism and we can see how George Bush has successfully
capitalized on the special characteristics rendered by the war veteran
groups and the civilian victims of sunk cost fallacy.

The third source
of Bush power comes from the blueprint for world domination set
forth in the Rebuilding
America's Defenses
(RAD) document prepared by the tunnel-visioned
neoconservatives at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
This blueprint powers the Bushmobile by giving his administration
a plan to follow. It has become his roadmap for imperialistic activities
in The Middle East as well as the entire planet. Since the RAD has
the blessing of his neoconservative gods, it has automatic acceptance
by his formerly conservative Republican Party. Embedded into this
source of Bush power is the war machine in general. There are people
who believe the nation needs to be at war to keep our war skills
at their best. Add to that group, the people who believe that conquering
the world is a right of a superpower, and add to them the voices
of the business world that thrive on military contracts. The overall
collection of these power groups gives a very strong, loud, and
wealthy voice that demands to be heard. It is the kind of voice
a war president
hears exceptionally well.

His fourth
source of clout comes from something called The K-Street
Project
. This refers to the mega millions of American dollars
that are made available to the Bush Administration and to The Republican
Party through lobbyists. This topic alone deserves serious examination
by the astute American who wishes to know how Washington works.
The lobbyists have so much money available for the purpose of influencing
politicians they are essentially able to have power over the entire
government. While apparently not illegal, the practices of these
money-dispensing lobbyists are certainly lacking in morals. Money
corrupts, and large amounts of money corrupt absolutely.

The fifth source
of Bush power is his brain, also known as turd
blossom
Karl Rove. Rove is the mastermind behind the Bush administration.
Karl Rove is also the master dirty trickster who manages to have
opponents of Bush smeared with lies
and innuendo
. His involvement with campaign dirty tricks is
legendary. His dirty tricks efforts in his possible
participation in outing the undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame is
approaching enlightenment as each day passes. Having a personal
Svengali
on his staff saves George Bush from ever having to get his own hands
dirty. We may one day credit the Rove style of presidential management
with the media manipulation that has shamefully served as an echo
chamber for the pre-war run-up and for the FOX News-style of softballing
questions. It would not surprise me to learn that the Talon New
reporter, Jeff
Gannon
was a Rove project. My personal guess is that because
of Karl Rove's actions, Bush is so far removed from the dirty side
of his political machine that he does not even know what shenanigans
they are up to. And if Bush does not know about it, he will never
have to perjure himself by denying it. Rove serves the roles of
attack dog, mastermind, dirty trickster, and propagandist for the
Bush administration. He is a political genius in the sense that
he is able to secure elections and re-elections for whomever he
supports.

The sixth source
of Bush power is God Almighty. By claiming to be a good Christian,
he jumps on the Jesus bandwagon and spews the message that if
you oppose Bush you oppose God
. We have all heard Bush refer
to his "faith-based
initiative"
, which is code for "Ya'all better support
me and my war because I am doing God's Will." (Not to mention
the truckloads of money the Bush Administration wants to give to
your religious organization.) Bush has manipulated the church-going,
God-fearing congregations to vote "right" under the assumption
that his conservative beliefs are in harmony
with God
. In this group of supporters we find the Bible-thumping
radical right-wing evangelists who lead their flocks of parishioners
like the pied piper who lead his children followers to the cave.
This statement from Eric
Margolis
sums up the Bush/God connection: "Bush's core
Republican support lies in middle America: the suburbs, Midwest
and Bible-belt rural areas, where most people don't read books,
rely on TV sound bites for their world view, and have only a childish
understanding of history, geography or foreign affairs. This is
the new, dumbed-down Republicans Party, fertile ground for nationalist
hysteria, religious extremism, and anti-foreign xenophobia."
Also included in this area of Bush support are the Zionist Jews
who think the RAD plan and the idea of America building military
bases in Iraq suits their vision very well. It was a masterful accomplishment
to get the evangelical fundamentalists to vote with the Jews.

If we are able
to identify the actions or features that have put this president
into power, perhaps we will be more careful in the future before
electing another president who would lie to put our country into
a war. Perhaps too, we may be more alert to the dangers of our entire
government being blindly led in one direction.

May
8, 2006

Miles
Woolley [send him mail]
is a disabled Vietnam veteran living in Miami, Florida. He served
with the 9th Infantry Division in The Mekong Delta in
a Ranger unit doing reconnaissance 1968–69 where he received
a gunshot wound to the head leaving one side severely paralyzed.
He is a father of four grown children and grandfather of seven,
including a set of triplets.

Miles
Woolley Archives

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