Sunday, September 05, 2004

Bush v. Reality 

Robert Parry of Consortium News frames the core issue of the 2004 elections in as succinct and elegant a fashion as we could possibly hope to see:
Election 2004 suddenly is not just about whether John Kerry or George W. Bush will lead the United States the next four years. It’s not even about which of the candidates has better policies or is more competent.

This election has become a test of whether reality still means anything to the American people, whether this country has moved to essentially a new form of government in which one side is free to lie about everything while a paid “amen corner” of ideological media drowns out any serious public debate.

For weeks now, George W. Bush’s campaign has been radically testing the limits of how thoroughly one party can lie, misrepresent and smear without paying any price and indeed while reaping rewards in the opinion polls. Bush personally capped off this binge of dishonesty with his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, continuing his pattern of lying about how the war in Iraq began.

Before a national television audience, Bush repeated his false account of the run-up to the Iraq War, asserting he had no choice but to invade because Saddam Hussein refused to disarm or to comply with United Nations inspection demands. The reality is that not only did Hussein say publicly – and apparently accurately – that Iraq no longer possessed stockpiles of banned weapons but he allowed U.N. inspectors into Iraq in November 2002 and gave them free rein to examine any site of their choosing.

As the saying goes, you can look it up. U.N. chief inspector Hans Blix said he was encouraged by the Iraqi cooperation as his inspectors checked out sites designated as suspicious by Washington but found nothing. According to Blix, the Bush administration then forced the U.N. inspectors to leave in mid-March 2003 so the invasion could proceed . . . .

The larger danger, however, is that the United States may not have another meaningful national election for the foreseeable future. The Bush family and the Republican attack machine may have gained the power to effectively pick new presidents. Whoever stands in their way will be destroyed. That can happen to Republicans in the primaries, as Sen. John McCain learned in 2000, but it will certainly occur to the Democrats in the general election.

For their part, the Democrats can be expected to go through the quadrennial process of looking for a “perfect” candidate who will be impervious to the Republican smears. But there is no such candidate. There also may be no practical way for a majority of the American people to see through the cleverly designed attacks as they are amplified through the conservative echo chamber, turning the target into a national laughingstock, as Al Gore learned in 2000.
Read the full article for some interesting background on Morton Blackwell, the Virginia delegate who handed out purple-heart band-aids at the convention, and his experience in "perception management" operations under Reagan, when he was charged with building public support for murderous right-wing regimes in Central America.

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