FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Turkey Potemkin

by DAVID VEST

President Bush snuck in and out of Iraq under cover of night on Thanksgiving to have his picture taken with a turkey and some soldiers. If anything else was accomplished by the quick round-trip, the White House did not divulge it.

Cable television news, in case you missed it, went completely gaga. Interviewees gushed about the president’s “sacrifice.” Even his Democratic would-be opponents saluted the “daring move” and the “great politics” of it all.

Yet, as my friend Jeffrey St. Clair observed after carving an exemplary turkey of his own, if the president really wanted to make a daring move he could have gone to stand in the main square in Tikrit at high noon and told the Iraqis to “Bring it on!”

Air Force One traveled in complete darkness, with no lights visible onboard or off. By coincidence, tonight while driving home from dinner I passed one or two SUVs also running without lights. I blinked my headlamps to call the error to their attention, for safety’s sake, but neither driver responded. Perhaps they too were on secret missions.

One can only reflect that before Bush invaded Baghdad he had never seen it, and that now, having both invaded it and visited it, he still has not seen it. He was there to be seen, not to see, to read a stiff, carefully scripted speech and say nothing spontaneous till he got off the podium and into the chit-chat. As far as we know, he met with no Iraqis beyond a few members of his U.S.-picked “governing council.” Air Force One had wheels up before either harm or new information could penetrate his security.

If Saddam Hussein has met with any supporters in Iraq lately, it was surely under much the same scenario: arriving under cover of night, emerging from behind a curtain, etc etc.

The same soldiers who were allowed to tell the hand-picked media how much they appreciated the president’s gesture have been forbidden for months now to tell reporters how they really feel about being in Iraq. It is perfectly all right for them to praise the commander-in-chief but not to criticize him.

Did anyone in the White House media pool ask the assembled soldiers how they felt about Richard Perle’s recent admission that the president’s invasion of Iraq was illegal? Probably not, but you would like to think that at least one of them did SOME reporting on the long trip, as opposed to merely eating cranberry sauce and providing “coverage.”

His descent into Baghdad, like a thief in the night, served to remind the world that, war zones aside, George W. Bush cannot travel openly anywhere, so deeply are the man and his policies loathed. He dared to enter the Baghdad Airport in secrecy, unannounced, but he dared not address the House of Commons on his recent trip to Great Britain for fear of being hooted out of England. Rare indeed are his truly public appearances, other than before a hand-picked audience of guaranteed reliable supporters, anywhere in the United States, or anywhere on earth, really.

It is far more than a question of security. In these days of snipers and suicide bombers no one expects him to “work the rope.” But the president’s security arrangements serve quite as much to shield him from hostile opinion as from hostile fire. By his own admission, he does not even read the news.

Were he to appear at any large public event, at any imaginable location, he would risk confronting not only a sea of opposition but an opportunity to appreciate what the late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (the Great Conducator) may have felt at his final outdoor appearance in Bucharest.

Bush has now landed on an aircraft carrier in a jump suit and flown all the way to Iraq to stage photo-ops. This is Evel Knievel politics, a dangerous game of “top this!” Extrapolating the trend, to what “bold and daring” lengths can he be expected to go, should next year’s election odds get really tight? Shoot himself across the Potomac out of a cannon? Parachute into Kabul? Perhaps he might wish to join Tony Blair in a glass box suspended over the Thames, in the style of magician David Blaine.

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

 

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
CounterPunch News Service
Bloody Buffalo Billboards
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail