By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
As a playwright, I pay special attention to the difference between words as they are spoken and the unsaid words hidden beneath the surface -- what we in the dramaturgy biz call "subtext."
With McCain and Obama edging closer to full-out general election campaigning, it seems an appropriate time to examine recent and older public utterances of various Republican officials -- Bush, McCain, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Fleischer, Ashcroft, et al. -- and their likely subtextual meanings.
I'm presenting them here for several reasons: first, to make sure these utterances do not get forgotten, but also to help us figure out how to combat the twisted politics they represent. No doubt a goodly number of these quotations will appear in campaign ads prior to November.
George W. Bush, of course, is a never-ending source of such examples. Many of them make you guffaw in absolute embarrassment for the guy, way over his head in a complex world he's capable of understanding only in the most simplistic terms. Some of his remarks, especially in recent years when nobody really is paying serious attention to him any more, make you cringe in their dangerous, reckless abandon. Some are so anger-provoking, they almost make you wish Cheney had taken him bird-hunting.
Often, Bush's comments are evidence of pure ignorance. Sometimes, he can't hide the arrogance and malice -- sure tip-offs of someone with major self-esteem problems. Sometimes things come out of his mouth impulsively and he winds up revealing a lot more than he realizes.
Of course, the GOP archives of the past eight years contain hundreds of juicy quotations worth noting. Here are just a dozen of my favorites. Remember, boys and girls, you can play this game at home with your own choices. (If you run across some really good ones, send them in along with your subtextual explications.)
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...
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