Sunday, October 03, 2004

Bush: Flip-Flopper or Just Flop?

The San Francisco Chronicle brings us what may be the first comprehensive review of Bush's constantly shifting Iraq rationales:

An examination of more than 150 of Bush's speeches, radio addresses and responses to reporters' questions reveal a steady progression of language, mostly to reflect changing circumstances such as the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction, the lack of ties between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network and the growing violence of Iraqi insurgents.

It seems that, if the truth won't fit reality, the policy is to insist that reality is different. This is common behavior among children as old as 4.

Unfortunately, since reality is somewhat difficult to change retroactively, Bush can only change the language and pretend that everything else changed with it.
There are a few instances where the president's words contradict developments or his previous statements.

On March 6, 2003, for example, Bush insisted during a prime-time news conference that he would offer a resolution before the United Nations calling for the use of force against Iraq even if other nations threatened to veto it.

"No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote,'' Bush said.

A few days later, after it became apparent that the measure would not only be vetoed but might fail to win a majority of the Security Council, the Bush administration dropped its demand for a vote.

The frame began as: "We know we're right, so we are confident they'll vote in our favor."

Of course, when it became clear that there was no support in the UN, because the UN did not beleive we were right, rather than accept the possibility of defeat, rather than admit that the policy might be a mistake, the frame was changed to one of defiance.

All of a sudden, according to Bush, allied support was no more than the equivalent of a permission slip. And we all know, big boys don't need a permission slip.

You could almost see little Georgie, hands on his hips, stomping his foot, declaring, "I'm NOT a baby, I'm a BIG BOY! And I'm gonna play war president, NOW! And those dumb UN guys can't stop me, hmph!" as he stormed off to the War Room.
The president also said last month on NBC's "Today Show'' that "I don't think you can win" the war on terrorism, explaining instead that the nation could greatly minimize the likelihood of terrorist attacks. The comment came after months of asserting the United States was winning, and would ultimately triumph, in its war on terror. The statement appeared to be little more than an inelegant way of adding nuance to his explanation, and the president quickly retreated from the words the following day.

Oops! That darned truth has a way of sneaking up on you, doesn't it?

There's another frame in play here, though - the one that says it wasn't the truth, or a freudian slip, it was a fumbled attempt at nuance. Poor George, he can't even get subtlety right. Isn't it cute when he tries?
Some statements now look off-base after developments in Iraq, such as Bush's response in the first days of the war after learning that Iraqis may have captured some Americans.

"I do know that we expect them to be treated humanely, just like we'll treat any prisoners of theirs that we capture humanely," Bush said, many months before American soldiers committed the atrocities at the Abu Ghraib prison.

If the things that happened weren't so hideous, this would be laughable.

Unfortunately, President Bush's attempt to paint the US as kind-hearted captors, bound by the Geneva Convention was shown to be yet another in the administration's long string of attempts to trick the American public into supporting his foolhardy war.

The next time Bush says we should be resolute and stay the course in Iraq, maybe we should ask, "Which course?"


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