Tuesday, August 29, 2006

There is a difference between healthy debate and self-defeating pessimism. Yes there is.

Cheney and Rummy’s speeches at the VFW’s annual meeting slash hootenanny [correction: Cheney was at the VFW, Rummy was at the American Legion convention] were designed, just in time for the elections, to limit debate about the war in Iraq. Cheney, while claiming to believe in democratic values, insisted that some forms of speech just aren’t legitimate: “there is a difference between healthy debate and self-defeating pessimism.” The Bushies tend to prefer self-defeating optimism.

By the way, I had to check the spelling of hootenanny at dictionary.com, which has this definition: “3. Older Use. a thingumbob.”

Rummy castigated the “moral and intellectual confusion” of those who don’t see the danger of the “new kind of fascism,” a confusion that “can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.” (To clear up any remaining confusion, he slipped a few more references to fascism into the speech as delivered than were in the prepared version that link goes to.)

He has a whole list of things people, especially people in the journalism business, have said that he doesn’t like. Why, did you know that in the leading newspapers, there were 10 times the number of mentions of one of the Abu Ghraib torturers as of the guy who won the first Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror? Shocking. He’s also still pissed off at Amnesty International calling Guantanamo the gulag of our times, more than a year later. He wants the VFW to perform a “watchdog role” over the media, citing approvingly the VFW’s successful Mau Mauing of the Smithsonian into censoring its exhibition on the Enola Gay in 2003.

Also, “I know there are some places where Boy Scouts are a subject of scorn.” He does not say where those places are. Girl Scout jamborees, maybe.

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