Tuesday, May 25, 2004

You Gotta Believe
Well, I was right. There really wasn't anything new in Bush's speech last night. Bulldozing Abu Ghraib (the name of which Bush mispronounced) is a fine idea (much better than the loony plan to rename it "Camp Redemption" that surfaced for a day or so last week), but other than that, there was no there there.

Bush is still trying to sell the idea that everybody fighting us in "the central front of the war on terror" (which wasn't a front until the United States made it one) is either a Saddam loyalist or a foreign fighter--or an agent of Al Qaeda--and he's still parroting his usual nonsense about how terrorists "seek control of every mind and soul" and how terrorism is a manifestation of "totalitarian political ideology." (In other words, they're insane like Stalin and they all gotta die.) And he blandly assured us yet again that we will prevail because of all the good things we believe in, and all of the good things we've already done. (So does this mean the electricity is on in Baghdad for more than a couple hours every day now?)

Bush is apparently not going to get the chance to pose with returning soldiers just in time for the footage to appear in campaign ads, which, I am convinced, was one of the primary reasons for the June 30 handover date. How we can say we're ending the occupation while keeping the same number of troops on the ground and possibly adding more is something that makes sense only in BushWorld. Salon has a roundup of analyst comments on the speech. The comments of Asad Abu Khalil, an expert on Arab media, seem especially pertinent--in BushWorld, where all you know about Iraq is what you're told by the administration and/or want to believe, what Bush said sounds OK. But Iraqis, the Arab world--and, I might add, others around the world and in the United States who know a little about what's going on over there--are likely to feel as though the speech insulted their intelligence yet again. And Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, with the last word, nails the absurdity of Bush's statement that the swift toppling of Saddam last spring gave time for Saddam loyalists to regroup: "So, let me get this straight: If the war had only gone worse last year, it would be going better now? If only we hadn't accomplished our mission then so easily, we'd be accomplishing it more easily now?"

Recommended reading: For a long time now, when you Google the words "miserable failure," you've gotten Bush's official White House biography. Wired News reports that thanks to an effort by conservative bloggers, when you enter the word "waffler," you get John Kerry's official website.

And from the Village Voice, Ta-Nehisi Coates reports that Bill Cosby shocked a black audience last week by launching an attack on poor and working-class African Americans. Coates says the audience shouldn't have been surprised. For the better part of 20 years--at least since The Cosby Show was the top-rated program on TV--he's been the "patron saint of black elitists."

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