"Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." - From George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" 1946
"Danger, there's a breakdown dead ahead - Maybe you're in way above your head" - From Boz Scaggs' "Breakdown Dead Ahead" 1980
Although the thought has crossed my mind many times in the past, I have to admit that my concern for the psychological stability (or lack thereof) of George Dubya has increased tenfold since his joint appearance with Tony Blair a few weeks ago. In the wake of the release of the ISG Report the day before, Bush's statements and mannerisms during that press conference revealed a level of disconnect and desperation that I had to wonder if the men with the big nets and white coats might be lurking in the White House somewhere.
Bush's statements were not anything that we hadn't heard in the past, but when taken in the context of the present situation he and his administration find themselves in, those statements took on a darker connotation. We were watching a man whose main concern was that his world was falling apart while failing to comprehend that the real world was also crumbling due to his ineptitude. But after a few minutes into the question and answer session, a troubling thought occurred to me; what if Bush's infamous bubble is really beginning to break?
Although there have been numerous comparisons over the last few years of Bush vs. Hitler, one cannot avoid the similarities between the two in their final days. Depleted armies, lost wars, generals in revolt and a desperate cling to an unrealistic hope of resuscitating misguided ideologies are just a few of the parallels shared by these two figures. Sadly, neither leader was able to recognize the irony of their respective falls being a result of those ideologies to which they so strictly embraced.
To be fair, there are no invading armies outside Bush's White House bunker (although the 110th Congress may be seen as such) and DeeCeeVille is not ablaze and in complete chaos. However, Baghdad is George Dubya's Berlin and even though he could see the death and destruction and hopelessness his actions have caused - if he chose to - he still continues to hunker down and wait for some kind of miracle that will save that which cannot be saved. Bush is still in his bunker mentality as the weapons he and his administration used against the world and the American people begin to lose their effectiveness. Here are just a few examples of those depleting armaments.
Nothing but Pure Wind
One of the weapons which Bush employed successfully for years was the manipulation of language and imagery. Along with the debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush's legacy will be the prominent use of the "Politics of Fear" and the murder of the English language - the solidity of pure wind as Orwell stated. The amazing aspect of Bush's success in this endeavor is the reality that here was a leader who couldn't speak his way out of a paper bag, yet this administration had so deplorably pimped a national tragedy to such a degree that much of the electorate didn't notice.
There was nothing conflicting about being told we weren't safe but go shopping anyway. People didn't get angry when Bush stated that he didn't have to "explain himself" because he was the president. Many bought into the "fighting them (terrorists) over there" mantra and thought "bring 'em on" was a manly thing to say. "Islamofascism" somehow became a word in a vain attempt to put a face on some elusive enemy.
Bush and his flock were able to brand anyone who dared oppose them as weak or traitors or "morally confused." Our one time European allies were chastised for being little more than "Old Europe" in retaliation for their vocal pessimism against an invasion built upon lies. And many people bought into the whole thing out of nothing more than their own exploited fears of the unseen terrorists and not being "good Americans." Every time Americans quivered and quaked in fear, the Bush administration would chalk up another victory and wave the flag with even more enthusiasm in the faces of the easily deceived.
One senior Bush administration official was quoted years ago boasting that "we (the administration) are an empire now" and that "we create reality." Fortunately for the country and the world, that modus operandi has almost come to an end. The majority no longer believes in their version of "reality" and the Bush administration's words have lost whatever power they may have had. Now, they all sound just plain foolish.
Take, for instance Homeland Security advisor, Fran Townsend's comments regarding the failure to apprehend Osama bin Laden after over five years. CNN's White House correspondent, Ed Henry, stated that bin Laden's continued freedom was a "failure" in the war on terror. Townsend responded, "Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure." Okaaay then.
One other reason given by the Bush administration for not having captured bin Laden is that he is most likely in Pakistan and we cannot simply "invade a sovereign nation." Excuse me?
Those same eyebrows rise up when Bush says that he "understands the sacrifice" and how hard it is for those families who have lost friends or relatives in his war. Really? I would bet there's a senator-elect from Virginia who would like to be the first to challenge Bush's "understanding" of sacrifice.
The truth is, nobody believes Bush anymore on at least one level if not many more. He and his people might as well spend the next two years with their mouths shut rather than exposing people to anymore of their pure wind. It doesn't work anymore and they need not look any further than last November as proof.
A House Built Upon the Sand
Like the thwarting of a disobedient child, Bush has lost his "step-stool" which allowed him to grab for those things he should have never had. The alleged dissolving of The Project for a New American Century group (PNAC) signals the desertion of those disciples of Leo Strauss who had misplaced their faith and efforts with the incompetent Bush Bunch in a failed attempt to achieve geo-political world dominance.
However, I don't believe they've disappeared forever; rather they have most likely scurried for cover like little cockroaches when the lights go on. Some members are still in positions of power (Abrams, Cheney and Wolfowitz), some aren't ("Scooter" Libby, Rumsfeld and Bolton) while others have moved on to criticize the bungling in Iraq (Perle, Armitage and Fukuyama). But we do have PNAC chairman, Bill Kristol, assuring us that this "harmless little think tank" no longer gets together for coffee and donuts.
Well, whether the PNAC has disbanded or not, they have had an enormous influence on foreign policy during Bush's misadventures and bear much of the responsibility for where this country finds itself on today's world stage. And there are members who are clearly irritated that this administration has thrown a major monkey wrench into the gears of their Grand Plan.
I've always held that the Iraq invasion was little more than a hostile corporate takeover which used soldiers instead of lawyers. And much like the members of The Iraq Study Group, the members of the PNAC are coming across like angry stockholders who are ready to toss the CEO out of the conference room window for his mismanagement. The look on Bush's face and his behavior during that press conference held the day after the ISG report came out made clear that this is a level of anger he understands.
See, many of the members of both the ISG and PNAC are also tied to military, energy development and financial investment corporations who are more than just a little concerned with just how bad things are going with Bush's War. Billions of investment dollars and hoped for future profits are in danger of being lost in Iraq and the James Bakers of the business world do not take kindly to anyone who gets in the way of their plans.
But there's a "Catch-22" in all of this competing for influence by members of these groups regarding what to do in Iraq. Bush is caught between those who want to do business in anyway possible - including negotiations with Iran and Syria - and those who think we should simply bomb those countries for interfering with our ill-planned Iraq policies. Of course, there are the anti-Israel positions (Baker of ISG) and the pro-Israel positions (Kristol, Wolfowitz of PNAC) to complicate things that much more.
But most perplexing for Bush are the factions in each of these influential groups who are willing to look the other way when it comes to genocide, human rights abuses or who our "enemies" are supposed to be in this farcical war on terror when it comes to "doing business." Anyone who still thinks that America's actions in the Middle East have anything to do with "spreading democracy" is seriously deluded.
Bush has not only made enemies within his own party, but in the international business community, consisting of some very powerful and very angry players - and his demeanor lately shows that he knows this.
Sympathy for the Devil
John Edwards and George W. had something in common this last week in that death took away from their big news announcements. Edwards' announcement to run for president was overshadowed by the deaths of James Brown and former President, Gerald Ford.
George W. was denied any public celebration of his lynching of Hussein based upon the reality that most Americans felt that the deaths of over 3000 Americans was too high a price to pay for his little personal vendetta. Reports stated that Bush "slept through" the hanging, but with all that Bush has squandered in order to "get Saddam," I seriously doubt those reports are true. Bush's snubbing of President Ford's memorial ceremonies in order to remain in his Crawford "hidey-hole" tell me that a good old fashioned lynching took precedent. Oh heck, go ahead and call me cynical.
With everything else that must be challenging his limited emotional balance; the fact that he, the sheriff of the U.S., should be denied any laud and honor after finally getting his Black Bart must be a crushing blow. For the most part, the news and the Sunday talk shows treated the story much differently than they might've a year or two ago. Bush might have expected a Fourth of July reaction yet all he ended up with was a lonely room, standing with a cheap sparkler. The mental image of Bush holed up in Texas, after being elected in an AP/AOL poll by a wide margin as "Villain of the Year," watching his Hussein videos and not answering the door or the phone for fear it might be another one of Poppy's business partners, eclipses any images of Nixon talking to the portraits in the White House.
Soon, the holiday break will be over and he will be expected to speak to Iraq and what to do and nobody will believe him. He'll speak of "victory" again and people will wonder what the hell he's talking about. Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to freefall into further chaos. More and more brave Americans will come home maimed or in boxes. An army of lawyers, already assembled, will circle the White House and all those within. Congressional hearings will start and Bush will again plead that he doesn't have to explain himself because "he's the president." He will continue to be pulled into contortions like a marionette with multiple puppeteers and, to add to his discontent, Bush will be forced to put on a smiley face in his State of the Union address in about a month.
There are those who would take great pleasure in witnessing a Bush Breakdown. He is the most unsympathetic character to ever hold the office he now occupies and many wish to observe him actually recognizing some sense of reality, of the blood that stains his legacy because of his personal need for vengeance and the destruction resulting of his ignorance of the world around him. The breaking of Bush's bubble, however satisfying, could be a double-edged sword.
Unlike Hitler in his last days, who had no armies or recourse, Bush has more than a few options should he suffer any form of breakdown - should he become aware that he has no escape from those whom he has infuriated - and none of them are in anyone's best interest, including his. But something makes me think that consequences mean little to Bush. Maybe it's the last six years.
Rather than a statesman who is capable of accepting responsibility, Bush reminds me of the petulant child who finds he's losing a game of Monopoly. I have an image of that child sweeping the board in a single stroke and stomping off home, huffing and puffing - leaving the rest of us to clean up the mess.
W.David Jenkins III is a writer/activist living in upstate N.Y. His work has appeared in "Big Bush Lies" (Riverwood Books) and "The Girl with Yellow Flowers in Her Hair" (Pitchfork Publishers). He also has a regular column at oldamericancentury.org.