Tuesday, March 25, 2008

When everybody’s somebody, then no one’s anybody

There’s so much awfulness in Dana Peroxide’s comments on the 4,000th American military death in Iraq, including her insistence that almost all their survivors wish the war to continue so the deaths won’t be “in vain,” and her claim that Bush “gets a report about every single soldier who passes away, and he always pauses a moment...” – how long is a “moment,” I wonder – “...to think about them and to offer a prayer for their loved ones and their family and friends,” which puts me in mind of the reports which, as governor of Texas, he used to peruse for as long as five minutes before signing death warrants.

But what’s been going through my head all day is her response to the question of whether Bush even considers the number to be significant in any way: “President Bush thinks that every single loss is tragic, from the very first several years ago to the ones that sacrificed yesterday.” Like Jenna and Not-Jenna, he loves every single one of his “sacrifices” equally. But hidden inside the cheap faux-sentimentalism, I think there’s a little piece of unintentional insight. “Tragic” is treated as a superlative, the highest level of emotion. So 4,000 deaths is not only not more tragic than the sum of each individual death, it isn’t even 4,000 times as tragic. It can no more be multiplied than can infinity – or zero. By this strange emotional calculus, the fuzziest of fuzzy math if you will, they might as well go on throwing bodies into the meat grinder forever, because 5,000 deaths, or 50,000, would be no more tragic than 4,000 or 1.

(Update: asked the same question about the 4,000th death, Cheney said “So?” Oh okay, what he actually said was, “You wish nobody ever lost their life, but unfortunately it’s one of those things that go with living in the world we live in.” See? It’s not the fault of the Bush administration; it’s the fault of the entire world we live in. Stoopid world.)

Update II: Tom Toles:

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