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In a bid for a new public image, President Bush is trying to move away from being an international laughing joke, to a top-rate magician. For years now, the public has poked fun at his poor use of grammar, breathing pauses every third word, beady eyes, and just plain goofy expressions that the media has a talent for capturing.
But in times of war, we need to put jokes aside and get serious. Grave issues are at hand, and this is no time for making fun of the nation’s leaders. The humor masks the horror.
Bush’s new image as a magician, he figures, will be especially useful when it comes to dealing with those wacky environmentalists and their nagging causes. For instance, in recent months we have seen devastating wildfires throughout the West, and calls for solutions burn like flames licking a Bushy chin. In a bold and illusory move, Bush proposed a new “healthy forest initiative” last month to put out the flames. That is, he can’t see the forest for the trees, because cutting all the trees down removes the threat of wildfire, as well as the forest itself. The magician in him trusts that the public will not notice the lack of forests, and all the diverse species that inhabit them. He is likely to pull off this magic trick, because in his left hand he holds all the distractions a captive audience could desire – terrorism/war, “regime change,” high unemployment, corporate scandals, and a lagging world economy. In short, fear.
In another fantastic trick, Bush reinforces his earlier unilateral decision to not sign the Kyoto Protocol on Global Warming. In another attempt to hide the issue of human-induced climate change, he collaborates with the Environmental Protection Agency to make the threat of global warming disappear. In the EPA’s annual pollution report, the section on global warming, the most significant and ubiquitous environmental issue today, will not be included in the report. Thus surpassing renowned magician David Copperfield, who once made an airplane disappear from the sky. Indeed, Bush may be the greatest magician ever, since he has made global warming and climate change vanish.
Of course, not all of Bush’s audience is convinced by his feats. While some people want to believe what their eyes tell them, others are more skeptical. Some of us look for rational explanations for hard-to-believe stunts. After all, if it seems to good to be true, it probably isn’t.
The challenge is for those wacky environmentalists who are skeptical of Bush’s illusions, to see through them and expose the trickster’s tricks. In this case, if we cut all the trees down, we may not have forest fires. We also won’t have birds, insects to pollinate crops, flowers, large mammals (food for those who lack the money to buy neatly packaged meat at the grocery store), carbon sequestration to reduce
the effects of global warming, outdoor recreation for the urban elite, fish, clean water – in short, a healthy ecosystem. Hell, any ecosystem, for that matter. Removing the threat of wild fires, using Bush’s magic, only creates a spiraling trail of disaster.
Global warming is an even bigger issue, requiring a more complex magic. This magic trick relies on a particular state of mind to pull it off. And there are plenty of us who have this psychological disorder – denial. If we don’t talk about a problem, we don’t have a problem. Thus, refusing to sign global warming treaties, and refusing to publish information on global warming, both signal a state of denial. They also signal a state of trust. Bush trusts that Americans trust the government to do the right thing. And if global warming is not an issue for the government, we trust their judgment. After all, if global warming were a grave threat, then Bush would do something about it, right?
Do you trust the magician — the primo practitioner of deliberate deception?
According to national public opinion polls, the vast majority of Americans approve of the magician’s performance since he stole the stage two years ago. But who conducted those polls? A private corporate ‘think tank. Who is the president’s constituency? Private corporations. Who benefits from such polls showing support for his actions and illusions? The president and his constituency. So go figure, the president is popular!
That is why us skeptics in the audience should not believe those polls. They are just another clever illusion. One in which we deny that the president is acting not in the interests of the vast majority of working Americans, but in the interest of a handful of private corporations seeking profit at the cost of our planet, and the young lives of America’s working class enlisted military.
Now we know that Bush is no more a talented magician than he is a responsible, intelligent, and elected president. Let’s stop fooling ourselves otherwise.
KRYSTAL KYER is a highly unpaid activist writer, and has a master’s degree in environmental studies. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
2002 Copyright 2002 KRYSTAL KYER