This is worth watching a little web-ad for a day-pass. Salon.com News, Stung!, by Eric Boehlert:
Dating back to the 2000 campaign and right up to this day, [White House Spokesperson Dan] Bartlett has routinely changed his stories regarding Bush's service depending on what information was available to the public. As more and more documents trickle out and it becomes increasingly obvious Bush received wildly favorable treatment during his Guard days while doing his best to skirt his duties, Bartlett is left trying to stake out explanations that haven't already been discredited. And those options are shrinking.
I'll tell you why this matters to me. It's not because Bush shucked and jived his way out of National Guard service he string-pulled his way into. It's not because he tried to get out of a flying unit so he wouldn't be drug-tested. It's not because he was basically a spoiled brat from New England who picked up some heavy party habits down in Huston and wasn't about to let the Vietnam war get in the way of a good time. I mean, these are all things I can understand and so some extent appreciate.
What bothers me is that he lied about it, that a fradulent artifice was created to supplant the non-heroic but wholly understandible truth. It bothers me a lot more than Clinton's lying about Monica, and the reason is that Bush and his handlers have made the choice to trot out his stint in the Guard as an example of his character. Clinton tried to dodge the heat on what was essentially a personal matter. Bush and his team have intentionally and wilfully gone out of their way to create a completely false image, and they've used this image as a souce of political power. This isn't the only example of said routine, or even the most egregious or reprehensable (the war, anyone?), but it is a particularly specific one, especially now that all the facts and machinations are coming to light.
Bush and the people he surrounds himself with are sickeningly devoted to the power of public relations, the ability to repeat false things over and over with firm conviction, muddy the factual waters through obfustaction and misdirection, and succeed in making people believe that lies are the truth. Witness:
In 1999, when asked by an A.P. reporter why Bush had claimed to have served specifically with the U.S. Air Force when he'd only been in the National Guard, Bush's spokesperson Karen Hughes insisted the claim was accurate because when Bush attended flight school for the Air National Guard he was considered to be on active duty for the Air Force. That was plainly false, as the A.P. noted, citing Air Force policy, which stated Guardsmen are never considered to be members of the Air Force active duty.
It bothers me very much that Bush and his people are so willfully disrespectful of facts. It bothers me perhaps more than anything else because I believe it gives this guy the real live potential to put major crimps in my personal future, and pretty much trash our potential for national progress.
I also probably feel a little more incensed about this than some of you because I've studied the arts of the theater, and I love them, and I find it revolting to see them put to use for evil instead of good.
Lies are social pollution and these people are habitual polluters, deciples of stagecraft and wordplay and media strategy. They are the most devious elements of Regan and Clinton rolled into one administrative package, and they have no appreciation for science or for truth. Most disturbing, they often appear drunk on this power, on their ability to manipulate. I think this is incredibly dangerous, especially given the fact that there are really important things that we need to get done as a nation and this kind of hubristic disrespect for Real Things will make it very hard to get anything done.
Just one real solid example: can we deal with the threat of terrorism without coming to terms with the role the Saudis play? Fuck no, but Bush's White House has been obfuscating their role in 9-11 and claiming everything peachy when it's cleary not. I'm not anti-Saudi here, I'm just pro fucking truth. We've got to get the whole set of facts out front here if we want to have any chance of solving any of these problems. Telling ourselves nice stories and sending people off to kill other people isn't going to do the job, and I think we all know that.
Like I said, this isn't the most extreme or shameful example of Bush's practice of deception and dishonesty, but it's a particularly specific one. Just like Nixon went down for botching a silly little burglery and not secretly bombing Cambodia, so too may Bush unravel over his own attempts to obscure the collision between his party-hearty lifestyle and the obligations of a cushy spot in the Texas Air Guard.
But what about Kerry? Isn't he a flip-flopper? Well, he's a politician, that's for damn sure, but while John Kerry isn't the straightest tool in the shed, he's usually twisty in an intellectually honest fashion -- understanding things from multiple viewpoints -- and when he's not it's because he's trying to do his job as a Senator. You know, voting for stuff before he votes against it like they all do from time to time.
And I have to say I like Young Kerry, the guy who demonstrated a hell of a lot of nerve fighting a bullshit war, and then a hell of a lot of principle coming back and calling out the bullshit. This was before he trudged down the path of career politician and (of course) lost his edge -- and you'd have to be blind not to see ambition in all he did as a young man -- but the record that he was once a lot cooler than he is now still stands.
I have this crazy idea that maybe if he wins, if he gets there, hits the top and reaches the end of that career politician path, Young Kerry will come alive again, and great things will happen. People are ambitious for all sorts of reasons, and there's an off chance that all of Kerry's career angling has at its core a desire to do some good things. It may be a long shot, yeah, but it's a fuckton better than giving the keys to old cokie McLiarface again.