morality_play (morality_play) wrote,

The Bush Admission: Truth and Consequences

One of today's more interesting episodes has been Bush's admission before a crowd of placid, obedient journalists that an administration official "likely" leaked the name of Valerie Plame to the press in an effort to punish her husband for his critical appraisal of the Bush regime's rationale for the preemptive invasion of Iraq.

When the name was first disclosed, many intelligent people reasonably supposed that it was the natural behavior of an administration best understood as a gang of thugs. Not intelligent. Not particularly well read or impressively credentialed. Simple really. And with no maneuver gauged to be too sophomoric or puerile in their estimation to service their own exercise of power. The same sense of self-entitlement that manifests in a schoolyard bully's indignation over his victim's retaliation is what has propelled Republican gaffes with microphones for the last seven years. Whether they're turning off their opponent's to silence criticism, or neglecting their own live mic's while painting opponents with vulgar slurs, what motivates them is a kind of childlike temerity. A willingness to secure immoral objectives with naked aggression, while imagining they are not required to justify those objectives.

Our media institutions have been pretty effective at entrenching this imagined privilege even further within the minds of these sub-humans, by collectively creating a scrutiny-free environment even while they go through the motions of asking the president questions. Today, for example, in the midst of this spectacular admission, and with Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence only ten days old, the highlight of media scrutiny had to be when one reporter asked the president to tell us about "his feelings." Was he "disappointed in the white house officials" who disclosed Plame's name? Even for this pittance, Bush managed to evade a direct answer. And it's easy to imagine the rationale of his handlers, in coaching the simpleton to do so. Any concession to disappointment with those officials responsible leads inexorably towards the inquiry of just who else does the administration understand to be implicated in this ploy to intimidate Joe Wilson? More importantly, given Bush's earlier rhetoric about dismissing any administration official discovered to have publicly disclosed Plame's identity, what does it mean that his remarks...

"I'm aware of the fact that perhaps _somebody_ in the administration did disclose the name of that person..." not explicitly refer to Libby, but seem to refer instead to some _other_ administration official? It's made implicit that at least one other viper harbors culpability. At a minimum, we need to be critically asking what sort of consequences there must be for the person's involved. How long has Bush known about their implication? What's his story today, and is he sticking to it? Instead, some giant of the white house press cor wants to know if the president is sad.

This cultural agreement to not press any republican with a critical appraisal has created an environment permissive of some pretty audacious bullshit. When the topic of an eventual Libby pardon was broached, bush defended his commutation of the original sentence, describing it as "a fair and balanced decision."

"Fair and balanced," the mantric shibboleth of all right-political media, has been faithfully conceded to by every journalist in that press cor, it would seem. But what is it exactly? A source of comfort to republicans eager to believe that any scrutiny of their 20th century right-political project unjustly persecutes them? Certainly! The repetition is part of a larger pathology of the media's simple minded treatment of "extremism" as a meaningful criticism. As if one could distill the truth from an equal number of the errors of opposing sides, until the official consensus of truth most closely represented that of C average America.

Right political ideologues level accusations of similar "weasel language" like this. I've observed them to express frustration with appeals to "nuance" from the left. I've also noticed though, that conservative frustration with "nuance" usually stems from their intellectual limitations preventing them from grasping concepts like "emergent properties" or "cumulative effects." The important difference is that in practice, "fair and balanced" means that matters of record have been "creatively interpreted" or amended to reflect right-political sentiment, and the appeal to "equal representation" is used to rationalize injecting reasoned inquiry with some consistently stupid right-political assumptions, and giving them equal footing.

Even more remarkable was this statement from Bush...

"I've often thought about what would have happened if that person had come forth and said, 'I did it.' Would we have had this endless hours of investigation and a lot of money being spent on this matter? But, so, it's been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House. It's run its course and now we're going to move on."

The appeal to authority embedded here is laughable. Not even intellectual authority. Something far more helpless than that. The decider has decided. Our opportunity to scrutinize his administrations criminal activity has "run it's course." And now... "we're going to move on..." before any discussion of consequences can be had.

Smart people always know this is coming, but have seemed unable to confront it. When the circus of business majors and nascar enthusiasts that make up the Republican base put the thugs in power, they knew it could only be a disaster. When following 9/11, the assorted mentally retarded began thumping their chests, and willfully conflated Saddam Hussein with al-Qaeda, we anticipated the current crisis this would manufacture, and _I_ certainly anticipated that after the crisis was here, and unavoidable, it's republican authors would simply express readiness to "move along." Or they'd make some feeble appeal to "bipartisan unity" when the time to punish them for their aggressive stupidity had come. And I anticipated that the press would treat this as perfectly natural. Did we actually permit ourselves to become cowed into compliance with accusations as transparently stupid as "intellectual elitist" and "you don't support the troops?"

This sequence of events is endemic of all relations between intelligent people and right-political ideologues. First, when the right pursues their own agenda to the exclusion of reason and in defiance of what moral activity requires, the left constructs a critique _demonstrating_ why the right is alternately, wrong, stupid, and evil. The right huffs and puffs, and an army of conservative think tanks is deployed to produce _volumes_ about how mean the left is. All of them penned by men whose dearth of actual scholarship would have prevented their small opinion from seeing the light of day if the institution of those think tanks were not there to artificially support their work. Meanwhile the conservative braintrust marches on, and the left is kept distracted with right-political sewing of doubt and confusion like so:

-The data shows Global Warming will have catastrophic consequences for our environment.
-"Warming is probably not real."
-The data shows unregulated markets tend to precipitate the misbehavior of private industry.
-"Milton Friedman won a Nobel Prize Dammit!"
-The data shows our civil liberties will be meaningfully eroded by this administrations legislative chicanery.
-"Support the troops or you'll go to hell."

But eventually, the crisis _arrives_. And when it does, the press, and the right-political cheerleaders who brought us to this precipice, exhibit a kind of selective amnesia, forgetting their role in placing us in the catastrophe in the first place. Instead of the concession required of them, that those evil New York elitists with their fancy book-learnin were right all along, they produce a new narrative. One about how we must accustom ourselves to the harsh realities they have thrust upon us, and how we must look forward. The right-political ideologue is most eager to look forward now that a glance backwards illustrates how he has been complicit in our crisis.

Where is Nascar? Where is business major? Right now, they're eagerly telling one another that we have no obligations to the Iraqi people. That these people need to take responsibility for themselves... because their crisis has nothing to do with us. Did our invasion of Iraq likely commit the leaders of Iran to a PetroEuro standard, precipitating even further dumping of US currency? Could be! Will it galvanize formerly disparate Islamic elements around the cause of hurting the US? Probably! Were they warned this would happen? Of course! But that's in the past. Their culpability will never come up again.

How do we break this sequence of events, and the republican ability to reset social memory to it's factory install settings every few years? We need to make these parties accountable. So I'd like to ask a provocative question.

What sort of consequences should there be, for voting for George Bush?

Cross posted to the Fifth Estate
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