Thursday, September 02, 2004

Running Down the Road

Last night, The Daily Show continued their belayed coverage of the Republican National Convention. Among other things they poked fun at they paid special attention to the upcoming Bush promotional movie, providing their own version—George W. Bush: Words Speak Louder than Actions.

It was a brilliant summary centered on the President’s use of words, even if they are completely contrary to the truth. The piece painted our Commander-in-Chief as battling rhetoric with facts—he often said one thing, while the exact opposite was happening. Most instances of this concerns the War on Terror. For example, President Bush has said over and over that “the American people are safer,” despite that terror attacks have increased overtime. Or that one year Osama bin Laden was the main target and our forces will find him, but then we didn’t. The President acted as if that didn’t matter—that he never cared about bin Laden in the first place—and shifted seamlessly to Iraq. The intelligence they receive is solid, though it’s proven it’s not.

The reason why I bring this up is because it eerily reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984—the ultimate Nightmare Scenario. In it, Oceania—one of three super states in the world—switch between being at war with Eurasia and Eastasia. When they switch alliances, the Party declares it had always been so and documents by the millions are changed to confirm the lie. Admitting they changed sides would be like admitting they were wrong, and the Party is never wrong.

The President seems to think he is Big Brother—a horrific thought in itself—but lacks the Ministry of Truth to make his claims “factual.” This is why I’m not voting for the man and why he’s sometimes compared to Hitler. While he lacks the actual effects of a tyrant, he shares some of their key assumptions: ignorance is strength, accountability is treachery, silence is patriotic, war is peace and transparency is weakness. Not surprising, two of these are directly from Orwell.

The Road to Serfdom is a long, long one—I’m first to admit that. But it is one of the few slippery slopes; once you start walking down it, you have a hard time stopping, let alone turning around. Orwellian nightmares may be at the end of that road but our President is joyfully speeding down it. It scares the hell out of me.

1 comment:

Constant said...

"It was a brilliant summary centered on the President’s use of words, even if they are completely contrary to the truth."

OK, let's examine these.

"The piece painted our Commander-in-Chief as battling rhetoric with facts—he often said one thing, while the exact opposite was happening. Most instances of this concerns the War on Terror. For example, President Bush has said over and over that “the American people are safer,” despite that terror attacks have increased overtime."

Whether people are safer than they were on 9/11 depends. On 9/11 3,000 died. Since then, 3,000 have not died. Does that represent safer? Maybe. Maybe not. I think a case can be made either way.

"Or that one year Osama bin Laden was the main target and our forces will find him, but then we didn’t."

Bush can hardly be blamed for not knowing the future.

"The President acted as if that didn’t matter—that he never cared about bin Laden in the first place—and shifted seamlessly to Iraq."

You are now describing Bush's actions, but the topic was supposedly how Bush's rhetoric is the opposite of reality.

"The intelligence they receive is solid, though it’s proven it’s not."

An error, not an intentional one, and an error that surprised many people aside from Bush.

"The reason why I bring this up is because it eerily reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984—the ultimate Nightmare Scenario. In it, Oceania—one of three super states in the world—switch between being at war with Eurasia and Eastasia. When they switch alliances, the Party declares it had always been so and documents by the millions are changed to confirm the lie."

Which is nothing like what's going on in the US. The four "lies" are not. Number 1 is debatable, number 2 is about the future, number 3 is not a statement but an action, number 4 was a mistake that many people made and that really was entirely understandable. Nor is the US a totalitarian state silencing all contrary accounts. Finally Al Qaeda is still being pursued, including Osama.

Your conclusions are not warranted by the evidence you presented. You have confused embarrassments (and every one of these four things are embarrassments) with something malicious. They are not. They are embarrassments. For example, it is embarrassing that we set out to capture Osama, and so far we have not found him. But it is not malicious. It is not Big-Brother-like.