The President and the Pretzel

Here's a good one. In this one we are told that the Leader of the Free World was lounging on a couch watching football on TV and he choked on a pretzel and fainted, falling off the couch onto a coffee table so hard that he suffered a wound on his face that looked as severe as if he'd been hit by a baseball bat. A coffee table is not usually much lower than a couch, but somehow the President built up enough force to suffer a rather severe blow to the head. The President of the United States has been felled by a pretzel. Allegedly.

The New York Daily News said, "The President has a lower-than-normal pulse rate, which doctors attribute to his rigorous workout regime. But [White House physician Dr. Richard] Tubb said that low heart rate made him more prone to fainting when the pretzel stimulated a nerve after it got caught in his throat."

Now we are being told that our President is more prone to fainting because he's in such great shape, because those manly workouts lowered his heart rate so much. His duties as president hardly even work up a heartbeat.

I don't want to be called a "conspiracy theorist," but doesn't that story sound a little weird? In this case it's hard to imagine anything particularly sinister going on behind this bash on Bush's face. But if it is really just an innocuous, meaningless event, that means the administration's media wonks are working up a really weak, contradictory story about nothing. If The President's men (and woman) tell stories like this about something that has no significance, it makes you wonder if they ever tell the truth at all. It recalls Harry Truman's statement that Nixon lied so incessantly that he wondered if "the sonofabitch even knows the difference [between the truth and a lie]."

Periodically -- in fact quite often -- The White House gets caught in an embarrassing web of lies. There were the allegations about vandalism being committed in the White House by departing Clinton staff, which later had to be admitted to be false when the General Accounting Office's records showed no such damage. There were the strange travels of Bush on Sept. 11, when he spent a few hours flying around the country, which The White House said was a response to threats which were later admitted to have never been received. If we get into listing all the times the Bush people have been caught in a lie you'd be stuck in a process with virtually no end; the point is they are committed to telling lies as a matter of policy. That is the practice Karl Rove has made into an art form, and that's what makes him one of the most powerful people behind Bush. Rove learned it working with the greatest dirty tricksters of all, the Nixonians, including the legendary scum doctor Lee Atwater.

Remember, in New Hampshire (a state that is small enough that the democratic process can work from the ground up), McCain trounced Bush in the primaries. Bush recovered his status as "front runner" in the cooperative media by winning South Carolina. The Bush people accomplished that by slandering McCain in "push polls" all over the state, planting rumors that characterized McCain as everything from insane to some kind of pervert. It was a blitzkrieg, too close to the election for McCain to effectively set the record straight. Headlines from the mainstream media at the time talked mostly about how Bush "worked hard" to win that election and showed he was a tough politician, painting the most sordid acts in noble coloring.

These guys know how to lie and it has served them well. Now they do it so brazenly they don't even bother to make the stories sound real. They seem to be celebrating the fact that they can get away with almost any lie.

Bush's recent story that he had seen the first plane hit the WTC on television before he went in to read to the kids at school was one of the most bizarre stories yet. And after saying it at a town meeting in Florida, he repeated its basic points in another town meeting in California. In fact, the two "town meetings" were so identically scripted, they even had another little boy ask the question again, "Mr. President, what was your first reaction when you found out about the World Trade Center?"

The questioners on those things are not just plants, they act like animatronic figures. So it gets back to this troubling fact that they lie even when it doesn't seem to matter. Or maybe the material their damage control efforts are trying to suppress is so massive, there is no incident that is trivial, that could not lead to some damaging information if it were ever really followed up or investigated. Or if the media even asked the obvious questions.

It seems that the propaganda system constantly feeds the public confusing and contradictory information to train people to accept confusing and contradictory information.

Now maybe we'll have The Pretzel Threat, or a War on Pretzels.

-- By David Cogswell

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