Friday, March 30, 2007

Bedtime for Gonzo

Huffington Post
Paul Abrams
Bedtime for Gonzo

Although it may turn out that the US Attorney firings were "only" blatantly political, and not criminally corrupt, the lies are knee-jerk reactions of the Bush Administration, and its roots go deeply into the entire rightwing enterprise that has been created in the last 30 years. Why, one might ask, would they coverup "nothing"?

From their tin ear to the terrorism threat prior to 9/11, to the denial of the human contribution to global warming, and from the SwiftBoating of John Kerry to the "they will follow us home" claim for prolonging the war they lost in Iraq, the Bush Administration's addiction to lying (or, as his predecessor, Nixon, called it, "misspeaking") arises from two underlying contradictions in the radical rightwing playbook.

First, very much like Yasser Arafat who would say one thing in English for the world press, and another in Arabic for his constituents, the radical rightwing have one message for their own groups feeding their faithful the red meat of hatred of anything "foreign" or multilateral, scorn for anything scientific, and derision for anything that limits their vision of a unilaterally acting United States on the world stage or domestic policies that put the public interest over their private interests. Gingrich wanted to dismantle several US departments, and did cancel the Office of Technology Assessment whose role was to provide Congress the same factual understanding of technology as the Congressional Budget Office does for tax and budget policies. He also wanted social security and medicare to "wither on the vine". Bush et al. ignored Richard Clarke's warnings of a terrorist attack because taking that seriously would have meant dollars spent on personnel, and not on their big-technology purchases for Star Wars.

On the other hand, the American people want almost none of that, and the rightwing knows it. Every time the rightwing has tried to be honest about their intentions, they lose. As proof of that observation, note that when they came after Social Security and Medicare in the '90s, they called it "saving" those programs, whereas in fact their proposals gutted them. (Frank Luntz, their wordsmithing guru, taught them to say, "we are just decreasing the rate of increase", but the truth they were proposing absolute decreases). They passed very few of the 9/11 Commission recommendations---because to do so would cost their patrons money---but they have learned the refrain that they care about the safety of the American people. Or, just recall John Bolton explaining why someone (himself) who proclaimed that it would be fine if the UN Secretariat's top floors were demolished, stated at a rightwing belief tank to establish his bona fides, ought to be UN Ambassador, as he tried to do at his confirmation hearing.

So, living with two truths (actually, two lies) is second nature to the radical rightwing. They cannot do what they want to do straightforwardly, and so they become trained dissemblers. With enough practice, they can do it and likely pass a lie detector test. Belief helps---they believe their cause is so just that any means employed is justifiable. Valerie Plame was "fair game". Terry Schiavo's dignity was also fair game. Lying about the impact of medicare reductions on the elderly---fair game. Taking us into Iraq to (they thought) bolster their domestic political power---fair game.

Mr. Gonzales's kneejerk reaction to deny the political nature of the dismissals was right out of their playbook. There is a suggestion in the blogs (BradsBlog) that these attorneys were replaced in states where they could make mischief in the 2008 elections (e.g., Arkansas and Hillary Clinton; New Mexico and Bill Richardson). Oh, did I forget to mention the Florida 2000 vote? Fair game.

What they are discovering, but not admitting, is that their beliefs do not overcome reality. Iraq, Katrina, Global Warming. Scooter Libby had his comeuppance. This time, it is Bedtime for Gonzo.