Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Do as I say, not as I do

The president tells us that Iraq is at the center of the war on terror. Well, that's interesting. It wasn't at the center of anything until Bush pushed his war agenda on the American public, arguing that Iraq, somehow, had a key role in the world's terrorism networks, and that an attack on Saddam Hussein was the only option open to the nation in the name of protecting our freedom. This was the message the GOP and the administration drilled into the homes of America's patriots. And the rest, of course, is history.
But as time rolls on and circumstances evolve the administration continues to twist and trim the reasons for the Iraq war until, today, it's become the pivot stone upon which our defense against worldwide terrorism hinges.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan is floundering, the body count continues to rise in Iraq (and will, unless we decide to eradicate the population) and Iran seems to be in the president's cross-hairs.
It seems to me that Bush and his Cabinet have a flexible agenda based on whatever logic or irrationality will allow given the situation our nation confronts on any given day. But underlying the whole "pie" of Bush's international policy is force and the threat of war. But ask for a logical, reasoned perspective on our nation's reason for remaining in Iraq and the same old rhetoric is presented. It's odd, really. How can the constituents of this nation swallow the tripe that's given them as explanatory. Shallow arguments liberally laced with phrases like liberty and justice and historic. But what is the vision here? What does "winning" look like. What is the administrations full view of success in Iraq? Is the goal to create a satellite nation, tied to the U.S. interests by way of policy and politics?
Baghdad is teetering on the brink of all-out civil war and all we continue to hear from Bush and Cheney is how well it's going in Iraq. Perhaps it is valid to note the goodness that must, by any measure, occur in Baghdad daily, albeit in limited pockets and small intersections of peoples.
The politicians (mostly Republicans) continue to suggest that any negative news is overblown and all "good" news out of Iraq is minimized or overlooked. The media, I believe, does a reputable, honest job of reporting what is going on in Iraq. What the right-wing cheerleading squads (Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.) like to home in on is a perceived omission of the many acts of kindness performed by American soldiers in that dusty land. Well, as anyone who's ever studied journalism knows, news has some particular criteria that makes an event or activity news. A few of the accepted characteristics that meet this criteria are ubiquitousness, impact (effect), proximity (in terms of events that effect a given audience), unconventionality or oddity and timeliness. These are a few of the touchstones that have been in place as long as I've been on this planet and some decades longer, I think, among those practitioners of journalism.
It's not that reporters tilt the news toward one or another political viewpoint, it's more that reporters are trained to be sensitive to several aspects of human behavior and identify, with as much aplomb and insight as possible, the totality of an event, given its color, tone, texture or weight.
This red herring called the "liberal media" or the "drive-by" media as put forth for the past two decades by the left-wing GOP is just that, a red herring with no basis in reality. In fact, it appears to me that GOP cheerleaders have made an art of spinning facts into fairy dust, and potent fairy dust it is!
But if the American public is so gullible as to accept any and all absurd explanations from its political leadership, then any hardships that acrrue from its leaderships' blunders to the constituent body is, in my view, deserved and just deserts.
The problem is, at least half the country (voters) is disaffected from and in opposition to this administration, but that half must bear the burden of the GOP's policies and practices as much or more than the GOP faithful.
Sometimes Democracy, as practiced in this nation today, seems threadbare and shabby and barely able to rise to the challenge du jour.
And yet, democracy still seems to me to hold the greatest hope for mankind in that it offers a wide range of freedoms to both the individual and the government. I think this current iteration of democracy suffers from lack of imagination.