"Throughout the 20th century small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, set out to dominate the weak, and intimidate the world. In each case, their ambitions of cruelty and murder had no limit." — George W. Bush
George W. Bush did a great job giving his 2003 State of the Union address. Applause abounded, and everybody looked good. As far as ritual goes, this is a good one. The president delivers a sound bite, and then for punctuation, the crowd claps like a chorus of circus seals. Up and down, up and down. Who could argue with constant affirmation, from at least half of the house, for the world to see? Bill Clinton was a master of the State of the Union.
I was not surprised by George W's performance. As far as calls for war go, this was a good one. Subtle yet clear, patriotic and patronizing, at times warm and fuzzy, and at others downright deceitful. There was also a copious use of the "God" word. No separation between church and state in George's world. But hey this is what we have come to expect in a President.
Now, I know Mr. Bush doesn't write his own speeches. He's a busy man. He does rehearse them though, this be television and all. And even I have to admit that George has mastered the art of keeping to the script and following the teleprompter. So when I was laughing in disgust, I was really laughing at the message, not the messenger. There was however one word George made up himself.
Listening to the end of the speech on the car radio, as I made my way to a rehearsal of my own, I hear W. say Hitlerism. Is that a word? Making a mental note to check the transcript when I got home, I then pondered George Bush's inability to say Fascism. Hell, he couldn't even say Nazism, which is only a borderline word. Instead he jumped to the personal. Hitler. As if the man worked alone. The jury is still out on if the George W. is cunning or clueless.
Words and actions often don't coincide. In the case of the Bush administration words are action. Unfettered by any ethical moorings, the State of the Union sounded good, but it hardly reflects the opinion of most Americans. Did George speak about the U.S Patriot Act, and how it seriously infringes on civil liberties? Did he talk about Donald Rumsfield and the George Bush the 1st providing weapons of mass destruction to Saddam? The speech was all about the Bush administration laying out their agenda, nothing more.
Bombing for peace? Compassionate aggression? Exercising power without conquest? Oh, sure he promised funds for fighting AIDS in Africa. That was one of his warm and fuzzy moments. He also promised $1.2 billion in fuel cell research. Yet, that sum is laughable considering the amount of money it will cost to wage a war to secure Iraqi oil. Also on the environmental front, George made it quite clear forests would continue to fall under the axe of timber interests, in the name of "forest health."
Also demonstrating George's genetic disconnect, was that everything he accused Saddam of wanting to do, the American military has done at one point during the 20th century. Which by the way, he is on record stating to be a current American option. He also failed to mention that bombs have been dropping on Iraq for the past 12 years, and that thousands of children die each day due to U.S. enforced sanctions. Also left out of the state of the Union speech was the Bush administration's recent "emergency" purchase of Iraqi oil.
And what would a George W. Bush speech be without some hang wringing about America's war on drugs. Last Tuesday it took the form of: "As a government, we are fighting illegal drugs by cutting off supplies, and reducing demand through anti-drug education programs." The operative word here is illegal, as the Bush administration has taken a considerable amount of campaign contributions from pharmaceutical corporations. Every other commercial on television is a pro-drug message - talk about convenient disconnect.
To be honest, I sat down to listen to the president with a clear and reasoned bias. I don't trust the man any farther than i could throw Rosie O'Donnell. As a journalist I was looking for George's smoking gun of propaganda, which he so willingly wields. Hardly disappointed, I am now even more certain there is no possible way the Bush administration can be justified in calling for war with the people of Iraq.