January 28, 2003
The Rotten State of the Union
Tonight's Fairy Tale: In which the snake addresses the hall of sheepOh he's smooth. He reads so convincingly you could almost believe him, if he wasn't talking trash 99 percent of the time.
Of course it seems much more dramatic when a bunch of sheep get up on their hind legs periodically throughout the speech, and then get back on their knees again.
The annual Axis of Evil speech. If you assume that every statement is really its opposite you'll get the truth more often than not.
After a while that monotonous rhythmic delivery of a man reading what he doesn't even understand is so annoying. His stock expressions taken from the text book of old politicians. The "earnest" look, the determined look, the defiant look, the kind look.
He looks more and more like Nixon. He's even getting a hint of the jowels of Nixon. It's really uncanny. Perhaps these characters really are some kind of mutants introduced on this planet from some alien race of conquerors and techological wizards.
Bush has those little close-together eyes. He looks like one of the lower primates. Little beady, dark, shifty, rodent eyes.
He is only an actor. It is important to remember and not get carried away with the theater.
All these rhetorical flourishes have no meaning, no rational relationship to reality. It's just a dramatic reading. George plays the part of president, gives a speech in a nostalgic, evocative tones.
Now he's into the God talk....uuuuuggghhh! It's so evil. It's as if Satan himself were talking about love and peace.
Now before the applause has died down, before people have had half a second to digest their impressions and form an opinion, Dan Rather is giving us a commentary, framing it for us, telling us how we are supposed to think about it.
But it's crap, because it goes from the assumption that Bush's words were true and were stated sincerely. In fact, most of the statements were false, usually diametrically opposite to the truth, or placed in a context which distorts their meaning. In fact he is entirely disingenuous and manipulative, deeply deceptive.
And his eyes are shifting all the time, as his face passes from one feigned expression to the next.
And speaking of Bush's looks, this is as good a time as any to address the issue of whether someone's looks should be held against them. Someone said to me, "It makes me uncomfortable when someone makes fun of someone's looks, instead of focusing on their argument."
Of course he was right, at least in theory. But there are also appearances that communicate meaning. There is body language. Facial expression frames the meaning of what is being said. The range and subtlety of meaning that can be communicated in facial expressions is enormous.
In the case of Bush, facial expressions are especially important, since he often doesn't seem to really understand the speech he is reading. So if you read the words you get a very different impression from what you get if you see him read it.
When someone said it made him uncomfortable when I posted a distorted image of Bush's face, I said, "That is a good point, but I'm not a political writer. There are plenty of people to do that. There are plenty who will take the argument entirely on Bush's terms, and totally play according to his rules. That means not to reveal his lies. Not to be able to tell the truth when it might embarrass The President. There are plenty to play that game, to play along with the charade of Bush's 'presidency.'"
But there also need to be people who don't take him seriously, who do not believe in his legitimacy, his sincerity, do not believe he tells the truth. Who don't respect him and don't accept his legitimacy. Of course there are, plenty. They just aren't visible in the mass media. I feel no responsibility to give any acknowledgment to that fantasy. On the contrary.
After Bush's speech and Dan Rather's and others' commentary, the Democratic response was given by Gary Locke, governor of Washington. I have only one thing to say about that. Gary Locke for president!
Now the drone of the pundits yipping away at each other like coyotes, all eagerly drowning each other out in their praise and reverence for The President.
Now one more point about Bush's performance: Even if Bush's mechanical, uninspired performance were actually convincing, it would not lend any truth to the statements, which are virtually all inherently lies, all just words calculated for effect. Pure fantasy. And even if it were not all lies -- if it were all true -- it would not justify what he and his mob are planning to do. If Saddam Hussein really did "have weapons of mass destruction," it would not justify the destruction the Pentagon is planning of that country and its people.
On the scene reporting from cyberspace.