Thursday, January 27, 2005

Any time we lose life it is a sad moment

In the opening remarks of his press conference (there’s a link to the transcript in my earlier post on it), Bush failed to mention the transport helicopter that had crashed, leaving it up to one of the reporters to bring up the topic. Similarly, a White House that is pathological about controlling spin, as we have seen in their insistence that the media stop using the term privatization, failed to announce that the search for Iraqi WMDs had been abandoned, leaving the timing and manner of the inevitable leak up to fate (and it was in December, a perfect time to bury a story). I’d also like to include this week’s revelation that 23 Guantanamo prisoners made a mass attempt at suicide, but since that occurred in 2003, perhaps they were right in thinking they could cover up that particular tidbit.

What I’ve concluded is that Bush especially, but also his merry minions, cannot deliver bad news; they don’t know how. Maybe it’s a psychological thing. We know that they lie, of course, deny that bad things have happened, that bad things are bad (increased violence in Iraq spun as a sign that the baddies are becoming “desperate,” etc), but when it’s undeniable and unspinnable, like a helicopter crash, and there isn’t a culprit to hunt down, they haven’t a clue how to talk about it. When he was asked about that crash, here’s what he said: “And, obviously, any time we lose life it is a sad moment.” And later he added that the American people “value life. And we weep and mourn when soldiers lose their life,” a line delivered in a very once-more-without-feeling style (three seconds later he was joking with a reporter).

I’m not looking for Clintonesque mawkishness, but he is not just any other life-valuing American experiencing a sad moment, he is the commander in chief of the armed forces, at the top of the chain of command that included those 31 dead troops. Some acknowledgment of that would be appropriate.

A Bush line I somehow missed earlier: “I will remind [Putin] that if he intends to continue to look West, we in the West believe in Western values.”

Douglas Feith announced his resignation today. The WaPo describes him as “a principal architect of the Defense Department’s postwar strategy in Iraq” who “devis[ed] the Pentagon’s overall counterterrorism strategy, including that used in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and quotes him:
“I don’t have any definite plans,” he said of his post-Pentagon life. “I just have some notions.”
Wasn’t that always the problem?

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. What’s that you say, Mr. Feith? The door would never hit you in the ass, but will greet you as a liberator? Whatever you say, Mr. Feith.

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