Life Imitates the Onion


President Bush will launch another major
public-relations offensive to strengthen support for the Iraq war —
this time likely emphasizing the high stakes and changing nature of the
battle more than the progress being made. The series of speeches begins
tomorrow at the annual American Legion convention in Utah and will
continue through the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and
on into the middle of next month.

The new campaign is aimed at framing the Iraq debate
over what the White House considers the vital stakes involved in the
war and reinforcing public sentiment that favors sticking it out. The
speeches will be aimed at rebutting mounting public calls—from
Democrats and even a few Republicans—for setting some kind of
timetable for at least a limited troop withdrawal.

The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 30

WASHINGTON, DC–In a nationally televised address Monday, President Bush urged all citizens, regardless of race, creed, color, or political affiliation, "to quiet down for just one minute" so he could have "a chance to think."

"Every American has an inalienable right to free speech and self-expression," Bush said. "Nonetheless, I call upon the American people to hold off on it for, say, 60 seconds. Just long enough for me to get this all sorted out in my head."

"Please," Bush added.

The Onion, Aug. 30

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  1. Don’t have a link, but perhaps the best Onion story ever was the one about Bush’s 2000 inaugural address where he was quoted as saying “We must find an enemy and defeat him”.

    Also, a photo of marching soldiers is captioned with something to the effect of, “Troops prepare for a return to US aggression”.

  2. I wonder how much “small government” Bush is spending on this PR campaign. I’m sure he’s spending it for the greater good and the benefit of society and all that crap.

  3. Lamar,

    I’d be surprised if anyone is really laboring under the presumption that Bush is for “small government” in any way, shape or form.

  4. Dan – You’re talking about this. Of course, the joke at the time was that things were going pretty alright (aside from the sputtering stock market), so what bold promises or initiatives could Bush possibly make?

  5. I don’t think sixty seconds will be enough.

  6. Surely by now we all understand that “small government” is code for “I’m going to both cut your taxes and cut spending programs that only benefit other people.”

  7. I remember thinking that 2000 story was way over the top.

    It had Bush promising a recession, an exploding national debt, and another Iraq War. I just rolled my eyes, thinking the Onion had crossed over into fantasyland.

  8. Dan – You’re talking about this

    David – The only bad link is a dead link. Would you please post the url?

  9. Where does the WSJ piece say Bush is stupid?

    The “take a minute” advice seems to apply here.

  10. This it?

    Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’

    It is one of the only Onion stories that I have bookmarked for quick reference.

  11. David, seems to be having a bit of difficulty with this link.

    I found it on the drug dealer doctor thread.

  12. Surely by now we all understand that “small government” is code for “I’m going to both cut your taxes and cut spending programs that only benefit other people.”

    Oh, if only that were true.

    And Dan T. takes the checkered flag for crossing the stupid line.

    Prescription drug plan, anybody? Dan, did someone drop you on your head onto broken glass as a child?

  13. Ayn,

    Don’t fault Dan for spouting the typical liberal talking points. Expecting anything more would be expecting him to think for himself, and actually consider what the words he types actually mean.

    Imagine: before Dan T. hits the “post” button he stops and he reads what he typed. He thinks for a minute, and then he realizes that not only has Bush not actually cut anything (except for stem cell funding), but his tax “cuts” are just spreading the tax burden to different sectors.

    Also imagine: the moon is made of blue cheese.

  14. This constant Bush bashing has gotten insipid. So Bush has a plan to sell his agenda (gasp!), imagine, a professional politician with the gall to do such a thing.

    Hit and Run is starting to waste my time.. Let me know when it is safe for the grownups to come out and play again.

  15. Read again, guys. I didn’t say that Bush actually has cut anything, only that the “small government” promise (by anybody) is understood to mean that your taxes will be cut but only the services that others use.

  16. subscriber,
    Bush deserves almost all the ridicule he gets.

  17. brian, he certainly deserves ridicule for many of his policies, but a politician creating a plan to attempt to better clarify his agenda to the public certainly isn’t an instance that deserves scrutiny.

    Forget “The Onion”, I’m waiting for a H&R post similar to the following:

    “Bush Breaths in Oxygen In (Get This) An Attempt To Survive. What A Prick!”

  18. Subscriber:
    Great ideas sell themselves, which is why Bush has to spend so much money selling his ideas.

    The memory of the electorate is too short to let up. As a real subscriber, I’m wondering why you think Bush’s bait and switch is ok? I’m of the opinion that the memory of the electorate is too short to let BushCo off the hook. I think the neocons are counting on short memories.

  19. Maybe George W Peron should try reading this:

  20. Sub:

    “Better clarify his agenda”? As Lamar notes, good ideas sell themselves. Spending tax dollars flying around giving speaches just to boost his fucking approvals ratings by dreaming up new propaganda to “convince” the public that he is right, well, that does indeed deserve ridicule. Scrutiny? Well, I don’t think that comparing real and fake news stories is exactly “scrutiny”. It’s ridicule. And Bush’s new propaganda tour deserves it.

    He’s our goddamned elected leader—not a publicity whore. We don’t pay these assholes to fly around trying to polish up their images, we pay them to run the government.

    How fucking jaded have we become, when politicians riding around on tax dollars, talking about how great they are, deserves no scrutiny or ridicule or criticism?

  21. If great ideas sold themselves, I would think Reason would have more subscribers than say, National Review (or Maxim for that matter). However, it seems to me, using your logic, you should be happy about Bush’s attempt to go out there and sell his ideas. If Bush’s ideas are so wrong, all he will be doing is constantly reminding an electorate with a poor memory of his incorrect positions.

    To clarify, I?m not letting BushCo off the hook. I?m merely stating that scrutinizing a politician for attempting to sell his agenda is tedious, and a waste of my time.

  22. Geez, Evan! How fucking jaded have we become that if a politicain says something about his agenda he is a publicity whore, and if he is quiet about his agenda he a secretive prick. Give me a goddamned break.

  23. We don’t pay these assholes to fly around trying to polish up their images, we pay them to run the government.

    And yet somehow they manage to do both. I’d say less time spent “governing” and more time spent travelling is a plus. Besides, there’s always a possibility they’ll crash and die.

  24. I wonder how much they’ve thought this through. I mean, I assume the new administration line is going to be: “the stakes in Iraq are really high, if we pull out then the country could become an Islamic republic/terrorist haven.” For me, this immediately brings up, “well who got us in this predicament. Oh yeah, you did. We had a secular dictator who supressed an Islamic fervor there before you invaded. Now you’re using the fact that you muffed it up as a reason that you should continue to be in charge? Huh? I’m voting Democrat in the next election.”

  25. “How fucking jaded have we become that if a politicain says something about his agenda he is a publicity whore, and if he is quiet about his agenda he a secretive prick. Give me a goddamned break.”

    Please. Do you really think he’s revealing anything, any new details? No, all he’s doing is trying to convince the public that he’s right. What did the WSJ (not exactly a bush-hating rag) say? “President Bush will launch another major public-relations offensive to strengthen support for the Iraq war” A PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFENSIVE. Publicity stunt. If Bush came out and disclosed some real, useful information, I might turn my head and listen. But just because he flies around trying to frame the Iraq debate in a manner than benefits his poll numbers (everyone, except you it seems, agrees that this is just to boost his popularity and support for Iraq) doesn’t mean that the administration is becoming more transparent by any stretch.

    Show me one, just ONE speech, from his “I’m So Great and so is my War” Tour, that has any real substance that is of use to us, and isn’t just him blowing massive amounts of smoke up his very own ass while cutting off critics at the knees, and I’ll give you credit. Until then, you won’t get any from me. Every single speech he gives is the same old junk about how great he is, and contains any number of standard talking points that offer zero details, but simply try to frame the debate in a way that is favorable to the Bush Administration. So excuse me if I’m a little skeptical of your “he’s just telling us about his agenda!” assertions. When even the conservative Wall Street Journal calls it a “publicity offensive”, well, I have a hard time believing it’s anything more altruistic.

  26. Bush may have a point about all this “high stakes” stuff. I mean, if Iraq goes back to the way it was and the Middle East goes back to the way it was and America goes back to the way it was, then…oh wait, he’s full of it.

  27. Ethan:

    But, things CHANGED after 9/11!!!!! 9/11!! 9/11!!! We can never go back to the way it was, because when an isolated group of terrorists smashed jetliners into buildings, America then had no other choice but to go and smack the crap out of defenseless sandpits and then squander hundreds of billions of dollars trying to put a bunch of band-aids on its bloody, emorrhaging body. Nine Freakin Eleven, Ethan! Don’t forget it. Everything the Administration does in the “war on terror”, no matter how broadly they define it, is justified because of 9/11.

  28. I have failed to learn the lessons of 9/11. I can admit that now. I am like those who wanted to appease Hitler. I can see that now. The new math envelops me: three thousand equals six million. I see it clearly now. If we hadn’t attacked Iraq we would be wading to work through rivers of our own blood. I can see that now. If it didn’t happen there it would have happened here. Never mind that we didn’t ask them if we could stage our killing fields on their streets. Of course, it would have been easier to just have things out in Canada rather than lug everything halfway around the world, but the Canadians skin is too fair. I can see that now. We didn’t let the smoking gun be a mushroom cloud. I can see that now. They will greet us as liberators. I can see that now. We just need to stay the course, and forget that course is inside a revolving door. I can see that now. If we leave Iraq now, the country will descend into a chaos different from its current chaos in that it won’t be on the news. I can see that now. We must allow more of our soldiers to kill and die so that previous soldiers who killed and died won’t have killed and died for no reason–I can see that that logic leads to an infinite regress but I have accepted the infinite regress as a nonvicious one, thanks to Rumsfeld’s advice that we all go out and read Cantor. I am able now to blind my sight to the “logic” that told me that that justification unwittingly amounts to an admission that there is no reason for us to be in Iraq. I see it all now. 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. Just the words sponge away all the rational thoughts that were clouding my vision. Now I understand why our Leader begins every speech with a reference to 9/11. He was trying to help me understand.

  29. A nice summary of the reasons for Iraq as of July 2003 here

    Seems right to me.

  30. Let’s play “Find the Hilarious Spin!” From Mr Hardin’s link, with a few of my comments in brackets (I won’t comment on everything as I want everyone to be able to have fun). And some of it is pretty dated. It is interesting to see what supporters of the war thought was happening:

    “Results. No battle or war is ever 100% effective in accomplishing the goals set for it, but this one was very good [was? umm…yes, I suppose militarily speaking it WAS good–for about a week].

    To review:

    The military operation was rapid, efficient and overwhelming [again, was?].

    Coalition losses were very light [for a while].

    Iraqi civilian losses were also very light, confounding predictions before the war [predictions which now have been “profounded”].

    As a result of a very successful psyops campaign before the war, large parts of the Iraqi military deserted. Many of those who remained refused outright to fight. Most of the paper strength of the Iraqi military never had to be engaged, and the remnants of the Iraqi air force didn’t make a single sortie.

    Iraq’s military was not seen by other Arabs as having put up a good fight. Most found the performance of the Iraqi military embarrassing and humiliating.

    We now control the territory of Iraq [lol], and have been applying substantial pressure to Syria, Saudi Arabia and indirectly to Iran. Syria and Saudi Arabia appear to grudgingly accept the new situation. The situation in Iran is very fluid and difficult to predict.

    Headlines notwithstanding, in most of Iraq the rebuilding process is actually going moderately well. There have been mistakes and progress has not been as fast as many would like, but most of the resistance has been in a small region of Iraq which is dominated by those groups and tribes who were the top-dogs under Saddam. The armed resistance remains a concern and will continue to be a problem for months, but in the nation as a whole progress has been satisfactory. Most of the people of the nation are glad we’re there, and their main fear is that we’ll leave too soon, or that the Baathists will somehow regain power and reinstitute their reign of terror.

    After the war, the true degree of brutality and barbarism of the Baathist regime began to be revealed. This helped shift the political discussion internationally, since it became increasingly difficult for anyone to argue retroactively in favor of any policy which would have left Saddam in power and thus let the horror continue.

    When Baghdad fell in just a couple of days, with very few American casualties, Arabs elsewhere were totally disillusioned and deflated.

    The news reports fed to them during the war had been lies, and had told them that the Americans were being badly hurt and that the Iraqi army was fighting well.

    As a result, the rapid fall of Baghdad was like a bucket of ice water in the face; totally unexpected and an even more massive shock [or maybe they just told themselves that the Iraqi army didn’t fight back, like we’ve been told above. It’s hardly shocking to lose if you don’t fight].

    They are now asking themselves what other lies they’ve been fed by their governments [ah, they are asking themselves questions. I guess it was all worth it. Of course, the dead aren’t asking any questions].

    And some are asking themselves “why we Arabs always seem to fail? What is wrong with us?” [and some are asking themselves, “where do I go to sign up to kill some of these palefaces?]

    Some Arabs are now openly debating the merits of reform.

    Anti-American rhetoric is rapidly going out of style in the region. It’s no longer fashionable to advocate picking a fight with us. [At least one of these sentences is false. But which one?]

    Irrespective of whether Saddam actually had physical possession of any kind of WMD, it remains the case that he had not abandoned his ambitions to develop such things. Now that he has been deposed, that is no longer really possible, even if he is still alive. He may still have that ambition but he no longer has the means. It would be nice if he were captured or killed, but removing him from power was the primary goal. (Qusay and Uday were found and killed; Saddam may also die very soon.)

    With Saddam’s defeat, substantial support for Palestinian terrorist groups has been cut off, and it’s already beginning to have effects on them.”

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