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For those of us fed up with military homecoming parades and demolished palace toilets, (the staples of post-invasion reportage on Iraq), FOX and CNN’s renewed and aggressive coverage of the missing Modesto mother-to-be, Laci Peterson, comes almost as a welcome relief. One could argue, however that Iraq’s plundered and eviscerated artifacts and the discovery of the pregnant 27 year old’s remains are both revealing examples of the Bush administration’s agenda to corporatize, at any cost, all aspects of social and economic life at home and abroad.
For Whitehouse ideologues, the destruction of all evidence of Iraq’s history and civilization conveniently started a new calendar page – the year one for capital’s triumphant monuments over ground zero. For a Modesto, California fertilizer salesman, an unwanted, pregnant wife was just more dead wood to be downsized.
In ‘Bowling for Columbine’, filmmaker Michael Moore cites the bombing of Kosovo as a starting point for the rampage that led to the student body count of Columbine High School by two of it’s own students – products, he argues, of the institutionalized violence embraced by the town where the massacre took place. As home to the Lockheed Corporation where missiles and other weaponry are manufactured for the Department of Defense, it’s hardly a coincidence that Littleton, Colorado, has been turning out killers over several generations. Should it really come as any surprise then, Moore argues, that two of its own sons could interpret this meaning literally? Could the suspect in custody in the Laci Peterson case be yet another prodigal son putting a very personal spin on this particular administration’s policies?
Laci Peterson’s murder, unlike the Columbine massacre, did not occur during any full-blown conflict. On the contrary, her disappearance on Christmas Eve came at a time when Bush hawks were merely squawking about regime change in Iraq. Still, stupid white guys had every reason to feel smugly confident that their appointed leadership had only their interests in mind. Regime change could just as easily be interpreted to include one’s wife.
Scott Peterson, the recently arraigned suspect in his wife’s murder seems to have done his own number crunching in the spirit of disgraced Enron execs, doing the devil’s calculus to maximize short-term profit gains. In this case, more hot-buttered booty action from a San Bernardino masseuse named Amber.
Again, we can draw gruesome visual parallels between the discovery of Laci Peterson’s dislodged fetus in San Francisco Bay and later, her headless torso, coming in on the heels of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s verbal victory laps around the gutted museums and libraries of Baghdad. This was the sound of freedom, remember? The war-whoop of the newly liberated bachelor yucking it up at his own stag party.
As Governor of Texas, GW used the festive occasion of death row inmate, Karla Faye Tucker’s last-ditch appeal on the eve of her execution to try his hand at stand-up comedy. His on-camera impersonation of white trash going down the chute could easily have been interpreted as an official endorsement of domestic violence. Here was a politician familiar with the patter of angry white guys in pick-up trucks everywhere. By the same token, the less-than-grieving Scott Peterson’s pre-arrest cameo appearances at the volunteer centre where he was supposedly assisting in the search for his missing wife gave us the clearest glimpse yet of a dirt-bag (oops, fertilizer) salesman working the room at a Travelodge convention centre – the familiarly glib frat-boy very much at home in the spotlight. A chip off the old presidential block, mini-me Peterson puts forth a similar aura of simpering, faux concern that does little to conceal a drainhole where other people might have a conscience.
Like his presidential pater, the shoulder slapping, high-fiving Scotty-boy can summon forth when necessary, divine entities to do his P.R. In Scott’s case, it was the ‘spirit’ of Laci, who’d dropped by the centre to thank the volunteers for their efforts in finding her. Surprisingly, few people commented on the fact that foul-play was still just another scenario the police were toying with during the investigation. No one at that point had ruled out the possibility that Ms. Peterson would return home safe and unharmed. Scott himself was insisting this was indeed the case, all the while channeling the spirit of his dead spouse to deal with the press.
George W. Bush, no stranger himself to syphilitic sugar plums dancing in his head applied a similar logic to push forth his Apocalyptic vision of a Saddam-less Iraq, where the maimed and dead danced on the streets and tossed ectoplasmic rose petals towards oncoming tanks.
Not surprisingly, both men share a tendency to mangle even the simplest of platitudes when called upon to look grim – all part and parcel of the sociopath’s inability to deal with emotional issues beyond a few pre-scripted banalities. Those axioms of evil spoonfed to then by trusted aides and legal teams become just more pretzels to choke on. Neither seem capable, for that matter of sustaining sincerity beyond the time it takes to summon up a cliche. For them, everything is divine but certainly nothing is sacred.
Like Bush, Peterson’s motives for his slayings have yet to be fully determined. Why the people of Iraq needed to be liberated, in most cases, from their own bodies is still a topic of wide debate. Peterson’s decision to do away with his own wife and unborn son has a similarly fuzzy logic but one that mirrors in many ways, the regime’s fundamental goals of funneling all tax dollars into military coffers and dispensing with such frills as education and healthcare.
For a weekend warrior like Scott, whose hunting and fishing trips were, no doubt, jeopardized by the immediate and future demands of a wife and fetus, this may have been the determining factor in his decision to divest himself of them in order to protect his remaining assets. Indeed both men share a rugged disrespect for the great outdoors in their mutual fondness for all-terrain gas guzzlers and even a similarly predatory view of the scenery. In his own way Scott Peterson, behaved like any Whitehouse CEO looking at the bottom line through a cocked gun barrel, aiming to strike poor performers from the company’s portfolio.
The unfortunate Laci Peterson is just another name we can add to the swelling death toll on Bush’s watch; another casualty of the aggressions being waged from the corporate homefront while more nameless bodies pile up overseas. Scott Peterson, now facing the death penalty will pay the ultimate price for adhering to the principles of the second Bush’s new world order. While it would be easy to adopt the popular pundit view of Scott Peterson as a singular aberration, exempt from any claim to humanity, we would be closer to solving his riddle by examining his pathology within the context of ‘homeland security’ and what it really means on the domestic front.
Leilla Matsui is a freelance writer living in Tokyo, Japan. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article first appeared in Dissident Voice.