Wednesday, June 29, 2005

SIDESHOW. I didn't watch the Leader's address on TV, so I cannot rate it for stagecraft any more than I could a speech of Lincoln's or Millard Fillmore's. I will say that I was misled to expect that Bush would overtly echo the anti-liberal-traitor theme foreshadowed by his operatives. The Ft. Bragg setting, and the President's call for Fourth of July flags 'n' fan mail for the troops, were clearly meant to tie support for the Iraq adventure to support for the troops. But such devices were already old news in the days of "Pride Integrity Guts" buttons and yellow ribbons. The hardcore supporters will enjoy them, but the White House cannot seriously expect these gestures to restore the faith many citizens have lost in the occupation.

This is a little disappointing, because it left the President without a bold gambit to revive public faith in his plan, leaving him only a restatement of familiar talking points: 9-11, international cooperation, madman Saddam, 9-11, Iraqi sovereignty, and 9-11.

You can see how useless this regurgitation is from the nostalgic commentary of the President's more reliable supporters, such as K.J. Lopez: "He always nails that freedom thing--let freedom ring," etc. Yes, the fans love it when The Boss does the old songs. But we have been hearing freedom ring, and mission statements, and success stories (flowers strewn in the path of beloved conquerors and so forth), for a couple of years now, and from the looks of things, this cheerful litany has ceased to work.

So the sanest way to view tonight's speech is as an aside. The President is now focused on reforming (or destroying, depending of your point of view) America's politics, finances, and judiciary. From that point of view, the Iraq occupation is a nuisance, a constant reminder of how this Administration's peculiar obsessions do not coincide with this nation's needs. So a few hours were set aside for a few soothing words to momentarily defuse a small groundswell of non-support. Time well spent, in this Administration's view, if it muddies these particular waters for another little while, leaving the wrecking crew to do its work undistubed. Like most of us, they live day to day, looking for the main chance.

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