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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Decoding Bush 

Our indefatigable colleagues at Cursor have alerted us to a brace of recent Democracy Now! interviews dealing with the Second Inaugural Homily. In the first, Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive examines the explicitly Biblical language through which Bush sends a coded message to his base. The message? God and Caesar are discussing a merger:
MATT ROTHSCHILD: If you look at these passages carefully and compare the text of Bush's speeches with the Biblical references, what Bush is doing is he is cloaking the best parts of American civic values or civic values of freedom and liberty and justice, he is cloaking those in distinctly Christian garb, and he's making all sorts associations. I mean, if freedom is the hope of mankind and Jesus is the hope of mankind freedom and Jesus are one and the same. That's not what we should have here in this so-called secular democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: What other examples did you see of these -- what you call -- hidden passages in the speech?

MATT ROTHSCHILD: Well, there are a lot. Here is one. Bush talked about the -- this was probably the creepiest section in the whole speech -- the untamed fire of freedom, where Bush was almost rubbing his hands together when he said, “This untamed fire will burn those who fight its progress.” That's pretty lurid, isn't it? Anyway, he talked about the untamed fire of freedom in a passage that included the phrase, "hope kindles hope." And this echoes a couple passages in Jeremiah. “I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem.” Or, “I will kindle a fire in her towns that will consume all who are around her.” This is just all over the place. I mean, Bush talked about the day when the captives are set free. In Ephesians, it says, "He led the captives free.” The closer you look at it, the more you can see these parallels, and they are very disturbing to me.

AMY GOODMAN: . . . The response of the White House, they had to issue a clarification, saying that this is not new, that these are the policies that President Bush is pursuing in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East and elsewhere.

MATT ROTHSCHILD: Well, it's certainly true. It's not new, the Bush policy of messianic militarism, nor is it new the way that he phrases it. I mean, he has said in speech after speech, Amy, that we are delivering the gift of freedom to the people of Iraq, but it's not our gift to deliver; it's the gift of God almighty. And so he sees himself as God's efficient little delivery boy, God's UPS man, replete with brown shirt. He talked about God as the author of liberty in his inauguration address, and if God is the author of liberty, Bush thinks he's that author's agent, because he talks about America as the one that is going to bring liberty to the people all over the world.
For more, see Rothschild's article "The Hidden Passages in Bush’s Inaugural Address."

Interview #2 is with that eminent sage Gore Vidal, who describes the President's imperialistic pep talk as -- well, why not let him tell you?
GORE VIDAL: It is the most un-American speech I’ve ever heard a chief executive give to the United States; and thanks at least to television, we were given every inaugural from Franklin Roosevelt on (and it's quite interesting to see who said what), and only one was as gruesome and as off-key as this, and that guy is Harry S. Truman, who’s being made into a hero because he fits into the imperial mode. He starts out his inaugural -- we're on top of the world we’re the richest country, the most powerful militarily, and what does he do? Within three lines Harry Truman is starting the Cold War, which the Russians were not starting. They thought they could live in peace because of their agreement at Yalta with his predecessor, Franklin Roosevelt, whose unfortunate death gave us Harry Truman and gave us the Cold War, which has now metastasized into a general war against any nation that this president of ours, if he is -- was elected, wants to commit us to, and we -- preemptive wars. That’s just never existed in our history, that a president – “Well, I think I'm going to take on Costa Rica. There may be some terrorists down there one day. Oh, they aren't there yet, but they're planning for it. And they’ve got bicarbonate of soda. Once you have that, you know, you can build all sorts of biochemical weapons.” This is just blather. Blather . . . .

AMY GOODMAN: What is your hope for the future, as President Bush inaugurated his second term with this speech?

GORE VIDAL: I don't see much future for the United States, and I put it on economic grounds. Forget moral grounds. We're far beyond any known morality, and we are embarked upon a kind of war against the rest of the world. I think that the thing that will save us, and it will probably come pretty fast, when they start monkeying around with Social Security, that will cause unrest. Meanwhile, the costs of the wars the cost of rebuilding the cities immediately after we knock them down, if we didn't knock them down, we wouldn't have to put them back up again, but that would mean that there was no work for Bechtel and for Halliburton. We are going to go broke . . . . We are a declining power economically in the world, and the future now clearly belongs to China, Japan, and India. They have the population, they have the educational systems. They have the will. And they will win. And we will -- we only survive now by borrowing money from them in the form of treasury bonds which very soon we won't have enough revenue to redeem, much less service. So, I put it down to economic collapse may save the United States from its rulers.
UPDATE (via our distinguished colleague Susan Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla): If we had waited just a little bit longer, we could have hit the Democracy Now! trifecta. From a talk Seymour Hersh gave at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York:
SEYMOUR HERSH: It's hard to predict the future. And it's sort of silly to, but the question is: How do you go to [Bush]? How do you get at him? What can you do to maybe move him off the course that he sees as virtuous and he sees as absolutely appropriate? All of us -- you have to -- I can’t begin to exaggerate how frightening the position is -- we're in right now, because most of you don't understand, because the press has not done a very good job. The Senate Intelligence Committee, the new bill that was just passed, provoked by the 9/11 committee actually, is a little bit of a kabuki dance, I guess is what I want to say, in that what it really does is it consolidates an awful lot of power in the Pentagon -- by statute now. It gives Rumsfeld the right to do an awful lot of things he has been wanting to do, and that is basically manhunting and killing them before they kill us, as Peter said. “They did it to us. We’ve got to do it to them.” That is the attitude that -- at the very top of our government exists. And so, I'll just tell you a couple of things that drive me nuts. We can -- you know, there's not much more to go on with . . . .

There's a lot of anxiety inside the -- you know, our professional military and our intelligence people. Many of them respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as much as anybody here, and individual freedom. So, they do -- there's a tremendous sense of fear. These are punitive people. One of the ways -- one of the things that you could say is, the amazing thing is we are been taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how and why and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now, but they managed to overcome the bureaucracy and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease. It does say something about how fragile our Democracy is. You do have to wonder what a Democracy is when it comes down to a few men in the Pentagon and a few men in the White House having their way . . . .

It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. Certainly, nobody -- it's going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit -- our -- we're spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars. We're going to see enormous panic here. But he could get through that. That will be another year, and the damage he’s going to do between then and now is enormous. We’re going to have some very bad months ahead.
Read the whole transcript, if only for the story about the daughter who came back from Iraq and left her laptop computer with Mom.

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