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Well, that’s it then. The show is over. The scales have fallen. The monstrous gears of the dark satanic mills that spewed their poison fog across the land have ground to halt at last.
George W. Bush’s performance in his nationally televised interview this week was so abysmal, so completely divorced from the waking reality of the rest of the world, that even his faithful spear-carriers in the far-right horde–not mention the power-worshiping poltroons of the mainstream media–reacted as if they’d been slapped upside the head with a particularly dank and smelly mackerel. They’re shocked–shocked!–to find incompetence in this establishment!
As the delusion and dissembling tumbled from Bush’s nervously pursed lips, his stalwarts at the National Review and the Wall Street Journal bemoaned his "bumbling," his strange "disconnection," and the "patently dishonest" answers he offered to questions about the larcenous boondoggle he calls a budget. The great gray goose of the New York Times–which had notoriously stovepiped the lurid WMD fantasies of would-be Iraqi strongman Ahmed Chalabi and his Pentagon paymasters directly into the public discourse, fanning the fever for war–reeled in disbelief at the president’s "fuzziness and inconsistency" on Iraq and his frightening inability "to distinguish real threats from false alarms."
From hard right to soft center, the collective lament arose: "What’s happened to our hero? Why is he suddenly shuffling, shifting, skulking, why is he telling such lies?" The answer of course is that nothing has happened to Bush; he’s always shuffled, shifted, skulked and told lies, like some kind of nightmare reanimation of Richard Nixon’s corpse. (Indeed, the main wormtongues at Bush’s ear–Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld–learned their dark arts in the Nixon White House.) That the media poltroons themselves were guilty of "patently dishonest fuzziness and inconsistency" in eagerly swallowing–nay, abetting–the Stalinist manipulations of Bush’s reekingly false public image is a truth not likely to be universally acknowledged any time soon by, er, the media.
But if speaking truth to power is not exactly their bag, our poltroons do know a trend when they see one. And the pack could hardly ignore a big hunk of red meat like Bush’s poll plunge–a 10-point drop after arms inspector David Kay admitted that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Of course, Kay’s declaration was hardly a revelation to anyone who’d been paying attention; but with all them scary black folk out there raising a profitable ruckus–Kobe! Michael! Janet!–how could any decent poltroon be expected to focus on trivia like the pointless slaughter of 10,000 innocent people in Iraq? It’s much easier to whip up some old-timey race-baiting tabloid brew–"Black sex fiends on a rampage!" — than ask serious questions about White House warmongering.
Thus, at first, the media seemed content to confine Kay’s myth-shattering admission to the usual ghetto of arcane political wonkery. But then a funny thing happened: this one little flicker of truth burned through the poison fog like the million-mile lash of a solar flare. The public, long swaddled in Bushist propaganda and poltroonish diversions, suddenly heard some hard, true, simple facts: There were no WMDs. There were no WMD programs. There was nothing for Saddam to threaten America with, nothing for him to pass on to al Qaeda. The case for war was based on nothing.
From this, the public drew the only possible conclusion: their president was either a murderous liar or a dangerous fool. As neither attribute is especially beguiling in a government official, Bush’s poll numbers–already weak despite the heroic media effort to maintain the fiction that he was a "popular war leader"–went south in a big way. The Oz-like Bush Machine has long maintained its illegitimate power by projecting an illusion of invincibility; but when Bush sank beneath the magic 50-percent approval threshold, even the poltroons began to notice the ugly reality behind the Regime’s bright sham.
So what next? The Bushists have only ever had two methods of masking the rapacious truth of their extremist ideology: sham and blood. Now that the sham is unraveling, right and center, they have just one card left to play: the death’s-head joker–war.
The Regime has already announced a "major spring offensive" in Afghanistan, with military brass and Bushist operatives in Congress "guaranteeing" the capture of Osama bin Laden, AP reports. It shouldn’t be hard to do: his hiding place in the mountains of Pakistan has been well-known for more than two years. In fact, one might have rousted him out before now, if one hadn’t been too busy stuffing one’s cronies with boodle from Babylon. Of course, the breathtaking stupidity of announcing the attack months beforehand will give bin Laden plenty of time to prepare; the likely result will be the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of American soldiers–and thousands of local civilians–in a cynical ploy to goose Bush’s poll numbers before the election.
But an "Osama bounce" could prove as fleeting as the "Saddam spike." So there’s more mischief afoot. The American military is now engaged in its largest troop rotation since World War II. Bush has also forcibly extended the service terms of thousands of reserves and National Guard forces–a stealth draft to feed fresh meat into the Iraqi maw. The upshot, as analyst James Conachy notes, is that by late summer, Bush will have 120,000 battle-hardened troops back in the Homeland, ready for new adventures.
The road to Damascus? Code Red and martial law? The possibilities are endless–for this gang of grifters will certainly not go gentle into that electoral good night.
CHRIS FLOYD is a columnist for the Moscow Times and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. His CounterPunch piece on Rumsfeld’s plan to provoke terrorist attacks came in at Number 4 on Project Censored’s final tally of the Most Censored stories of 2002. He can be reached at: email@example.com