Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Rove, Rumsfeld, and the Spin Machine - UPDATED

I spared myself the spectacle of Bush's press conference — in general I find it painful to listen to Chimpy's voice (except of course for the occasion of his delightful deer-in-the-headlights look in the debates). I've already read about the fake applause, but on the whole I'm avoiding reading about it for tonight at least.

The purpose of this speech was to shore up the public's approval numbers for the Iraq war. What I have found interesting, however, is how coordinated the effort has been over the last several days, on the part not only of the Right-Wing Talking Heads but of government officials.

A great many seem to have characterized Rove's latest charmer, characterized by Daou correctly, I think, as "vile comments denigrating half of the American public" as a tit-for-tat response to Durbin. And of course many are caught up in the despicable manipulativeness of it all and predictably (and, I feel, misguidedly) some quarters have been demanding an apology.

All of this is a waste of time and energy and, worse than that, merely plays into Rove's hands. The man is a political genius (and of course I agree that his genius appears to be more for winning than for actually accomplishing anything): the point is never to look at what he is saying but to ask why he is saying it. Inasmuch as it may have been a response to Durbin at all, that is mere chicken feed. Its primary goal is clearly to stir up the base, make everyone forget about Iraq and remember 9/11 (and hopefully forget the fact that Bush has done nothing to capture Bin Laden; quite the opposite), and turn Bush's numbers around. It goes along with the recent Senate testimony warning that the war was still "winnable" but only with the Public's support, and now, tonight, with Bush's speech.

All this dwelling on the content of Rove's speech just serves their ends on many levels. It keeps the image of 9/11 in people's minds; it keeps the grotesque slander that liberals are weak and unwilling to defend the country (when has there ever been a Democratic president who was afraid to go to war?) in people's minds; and most of all it makes the Democrats look petulant and whiny.

See (and say it) it for what it is: a propaganda tool. And if you have to talk about it at all, just dismiss it as typical of the Republican Party's obsessive and anti-democratic, anti-republican drive for a One Party State: just another attack on the legitimacy of the very existence of any opposition party at all.

UPDATE: Bien-sûr, this has already been said, and better:
But I actually think Rove's rant should be seen as a somewhat encouraging sign. Rove and his idiot chorus aren't roaring at the top of their lungs to try to drown out the liberals -- that would be absurd overkill, given how effectively the corporate media has ridiculed and/or demonized the likes of Howard Dean and Dick Durbin. No, Rove's hate rally is aimed squarely at suppressing the growing doubts of the great silent majority -- and even, to a certain extent, those of the conservative true believers, some of whom are showing ominous signs of war weariness.
The rhetorical assault on the liberals, in other words, is the core of the PR counteroffensive the White House has been promising to unleash for the past week.
Having been advised by the "moderates" to level with the American people and explain just how badly things have gone off the track in Iraq, and how much time, treasure and blood it will take to redeem Bush's casual promises of victory, the Rovians apparently have decided they can't do it -- not without suffering unacceptable casualties on the home front. American troops, after all, are expendable. But Bush's political capital is both precious and increasingly scarce. Much too scarce, apparently, to waste on an exercise as frivolous as a presidential appeal for patriotic unity and shared sacrifice.
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