Saturday, January 14, 2006

Imperial Presidency v. Government Drowned in a Tub

I'm trying to figure out the mind set of someone who can campaign espousing smaller federal government -- like Patrick Basham recalls in his Cato Institute piece after Bush was elected over Gore by a 5 to 4 Supreme Court vote -- and then work so hard to expand his own power as if two centuries of "checks and balances" were some so-called "liberal fantasy." I am left with just a couple of logical conclusions. 

One is that W is a liar. This is my less cynical conclusion BTW. It is less cynical because I have tried in my evaluation to give him credit for what he said in public throughout the two campaigns and while in office as President. I consider it less cynical to assume that W knows what he is saying when he is saying it. I am also assuming that he believes everything he says. Not to would require that we admit for him higher levels of intelligence and mental acuity than he has ever demonstrated in public discourse or by official/institutional testing. He does demonstrate a degree of "good-old-boy" street smarts at times looking much like the former Clemson football coach Danny Ford. You know, "he's as a dumb as a fox." It seems to me that Molly Ivins has asked us to understand W this way. So . . . let's give him credit for what I want to call conscious expediency. Another way to say it is: Saying or doing what he thinks he needs to say or do so that he can say or do what he thinks he needs to say or do. 

CE is W's part in what Paul Waldman calls Fraud. This how he outlines it in his book

How to Build a Fraud: 

• Portray son of one of America's most influential families as down-home Texan 

• Berate media as "liberal" until they stop asking tough questions 

• Take advantage of reporters' tendency to not check the facts 

• Mask reactionary policies in compassionate words and pictures 

• Push false stories from right-wing media into mainstream media 

• Extol the virtues of workers while systematically pushing an anti-labor agenda 

• Propose a series of tax cuts aimed at the wealthy, but sell them as a boon to ordinary Americans 

• Disguise destructive initiatives with friendly sounding names 

• Befriend media with "genuine guy" routine 

• Keep the public from accessing information 

• Maintain message discipline at all times 

• Question patriotism of anyone who disagrees 

• Repeat above until it all seems true 

At some point, George W. Bush took a good long look at who he was and what he wanted for the country and decided that the American people would never buy it if he gave it to them straight. So Bush and his political machine made their decision: the American people would have to be lied to. 

I couldn't agree more. As I said, he believes what he thinks he knows. Belief is important because ultimately some vision -- of which W is simply an ordained recipient (in cahoots with other fellow travelers) --becomes the sole/soul and -- this is important --purifying motivation for everything that he says or does. With the deluding indignation of a self-appointed martyr and a pronounced comfort with contradiction, he lies. How can you tell that he is lying? Read his lips. If they're moving, he's lying. 

The more cynical outcome is to conclude that he is being duped -- like the Emperor with no clothes. Interestingly, we focus on the gullibility of the subjects through out our retelling of the age-old tale. Blaming them for their succumbing to a lie. We do the same with the American public today. But doesn't the fairy tale contain the truth that publics "under the power of a "despot" -- puppet or not -- do not know what they do not know? "Tell them over and over until they believe it is true." Eventually "they" don't know. Only someone who has participated in that which is the subject of the lie, the whistleblowers like Russell Tice or who have not yet been hypnotized by the droning, the child whom I've always thought was a little girl, can dispel the lie for what it is in its dissonance and incongruity. Bush appears at times to be horribly ignorant or at least susceptible to his own droning. Like an emperor so enamored by flattery that he never questions the source. Gullible is as gullible does "a heck of a job." 

Part of not knowing what we don't know is that we can not tell the difference between the person who is President and the Presidency itself. The rhetoric flattens these two into one. So that we can no longer speak of how W has dishonored the office without being accused of dishonoring the office ourselves. The doublespeak of the puppet plus the doublespeak echoing back via a hypnotized media and public equals little or nothing of consequence recognized as utterable. Think of Bill Murray going Japan to show us what living in the US with a mind of your own was like. Oh that W had an inking of Bob Harris' self consciousness. 

See what I mean about this being the more cynical conclusion? 

I guess it doesn't matter which part of the doublespeak comes out his mouth or whether he is conscious of it as doublespeak or not. We are in trouble, of Orwellian proportions. Because neither an imperial presidency or a drownable government will be our salvation. We already have a way of doing things in this country that could rescue us from either of these false Saviors. It has the potential to inform us so that we can honestly join the little girl who utters the truth from her innocence and hear the prophetic voices of whistleblowers like Russell Tice. It is the Constitution. But I best be careful otherwise I do dishonor to W which he has not already done to himself.

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