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Naomi Wolf's take on the rise and fall of GWB

 
 
Reply Sun 13 Nov, 2005 10:48 pm
Full article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianweekly/story/0,12674,1638589,00.html

How did he get away with so many lies for so long? After 9/11, Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove successfully used the fear of more terrorist attacks and the intoxicant of ruthless jingoism to sedate the country and make it compliant.

They could not have had more fortunate timing. During an era when US prestige abroad had already been declining, when US schools were turning out subliterates, when the US economy was being crippled by competition from harder-working south-east Asians and Chinese, Americans - and especially American men - were feeling the sinking self-regard characteristic of those losing prestige in once-great empires in decline.

Bush, Cheney and Rove changed all that with their myth making post-9/11. Suddenly those feminists were no longer so threatening: we still needed tough men in firefighter suits to protect the less powerful. Suddenly American men could feel potent at the sight of a statue of a tyrant toppling in a public square, could vicariously inhale the discourse about "liberating the Middle East" and "spreading democracy", could put a yellow "Support the Troops" sticker on their SUVs and forget the spiking mortgage, the downsizing of good-paying white-collar jobs, the increasing obstreperousness of their women. Bush managed to be golden for so long because he made Americans - and especially white American men, his core constituency - feel good about their identity again.

Well, Katrina was like the end of The Wizard of Oz: the tiny, fibbing man was revealed behind the great big voice and the inflated ideals. Scene after scene of the failure of the US to act like the US held a mirror up to our faces. It was like an intervention for a drug addict: suddenly the lies, the hype, the intoxicants, the bad company, looked as destructive to our true selves as Americans as they really had been all along. "This is not who we are," we realised inwardly, in revulsion at our own long bender.

So now Bush can get no slack. The Miers fiasco showed him up as arrogant - no news, but we are sick of it now. The Valerie Plame leak suddenly feels serious, now that Bush has lost the monopoly on the word "treachery". The press is refusing to go away in the face of threats and platitudes. The US hit the 2,000 mark for dead young American men and women in Iraq, and no one thought that was inspiring any more. The man can do nothing right.
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Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Nov, 2005 11:24 pm
Re: Naomi Wolf's take on the rise and fall of GWB
hingehead wrote:
Full article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianweekly/story/0,12674,1638589,00.html

How did he get away with so many lies for so long?
What lie?

After 9/11, Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove successfully used the fear of more terrorist attacks and the intoxicant of ruthless jingoism to sedate the country and make it compliant.

The Congress voted overwhelmingly for the Act and again to keep it.

They could not have had more fortunate timing. During an era when US prestige abroad had already been declining, when US schools were turning out subliterates, when the US economy was being crippled by competition from harder-working south-east Asians and Chinese, Americans - and especially American men - were feeling the sinking self-regard characteristic of those losing prestige in once-great empires in decline.
Our schools suck. True. Thank God for Bush's great education program. It has real promise. Of course, only a freakin idiot would expect Bush to be able to fix overnight what happened over a period of fifty years. Did she poll American men? Where are her stats? Oddly, the empire is so astronomically above everyone else, we have some more freefall room before we even need to peer over our glasses.
Bush, Cheney and Rove changed all that with their myth making post-9/11. Suddenly those feminists were no longer so threatening: we still needed tough men in firefighter suits to protect the less powerful.

WTF?? Translation???
Suddenly American men could feel potent at the sight of a statue of a tyrant toppling in a public square, could vicariously inhale the discourse about "liberating the Middle East" and "spreading democracy", could put a yellow "Support the Troops" sticker on their SUVs and forget the spiking mortgage, the downsizing of good-paying white-collar jobs, the increasing obstreperousness of their women. Bush managed to be golden for so long because he made Americans - and especially white American men, his core constituency - feel good about their identity again.
>laughs> Are you taking this nutty woman seriously? This is about Bush v Women? A war for men's votes??? This is the stupidest thing today. Congratulations--you had stiff competition.
Well, Katrina was like the end of The Wizard of Oz: the tiny, fibbing man was revealed behind the great big voice and the inflated ideals.
Bush created Katrina. Aren't you ashamed for bringing this steaming turd inside? Did she say what the fib was yet??
Scene after scene of the failure of the US to act like the US held a mirror up to our faces. It was like an intervention for a drug addict: suddenly the lies, the hype, the intoxicants, the bad company, looked as destructive to our true selves as Americans as they really had been all along. "This is not who we are," we realised inwardly, in revulsion at our own long bender.
What lie?
So now Bush can get no slack. The Miers fiasco showed him up as arrogant -
How is nominating a SC justice arrogant, again?
no news, but we are sick of it now. The Valerie Plame leak suddenly feels serious,
maybe....maybe not... So far, the only sentence fragment perhaps of merit.
now that Bush has lost the monopoly on the word "treachery". The press is refusing to go away in the face of threats and platitudes.
Did they EVER go away?
The US hit the 2,000 mark for dead young American men and women in Iraq, and no one thought that was inspiring any more. The man can do nothing right.
What was it he did wrong?
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Nov, 2005 11:44 pm
Please forward all correspondence to Naomi Wolf (http://www.synaptic.bc.ca/ejournal/wolf.htm)

After you read the full article.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 01:19 am
bm
0 Replies
 
goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 01:26 am
I read the full article but I can't sum it up. But this line stood out.

Quote:
Well, Katrina was like the end of The Wizard of Oz: the tiny, fibbing man was revealed behind the great big voice and the inflated ideals.


The picture is incredible.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 02:13 am
Yep.

And sad.
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 03:52 am
bm
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 05:47 am
We all seem to have the sense that Katrina was the turning point (and a lot of other writers and observers share our sense of demarcation).

But that poses the question of why exactly?
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 06:19 am
Gore Vidal was on here on Sat.He claimed you were suffering from a blackout on information.

He looked quite well considering.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 06:41 am
Why? This is my take: Katrina destroyed the myth of "American moral supremacy" in the world. It took away the Bush administration's authority to stamp it's own values on the world. This administration had snubbed & undermined the UN & invaded Iraq despite international outrage. Katrina showed the world, in excruciating detail, just how poorly the disadvantaged had actually fared in this great democracy, just how unequal the equation really was. How could Bush & co have any credibility in "bringing freedom & democracy" to other countries (whether they wanted it or not!) when clearly some American citizens appeared to be treated as lesser beings than others?
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 07:35 am
I'm afraid,msolga,that it is a sad fact of life that some people are "lesser beings" than others.I think the vast majority of the aboriginal populations of countries taken over by Western imperial expansion would firmly agree that such a notion is very widespread in the world and not confined to gulf coast states in the USA.

A cricket follower I know told me that Melbourne is quite salubrious and a vast improvement on the cheap labour dormitory townships around Johannesburg.

Always look down to get your bearings.Looking up can affect the vertigo.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 07:47 am
I don't know that some people are lesser beings, but some are certainly treated that way. In many countries, I agree. However, the governments of most democratic countries aren't in the business of claiming some sort of god given right to invade other countries for dubious reasons & impose their will on them. Then claim they're doing it in the name of freedom & democracy.
0 Replies
 
kelticwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 08:08 am
People were overwhelmed with the plight of the poor stuck in new Orleans, but that is not the real reason Katrina was so damaging to Bush's image.

Bush has built his entire popularity around his response to 9/11. That is all we have heard for four years.

So he rams through the Patriot Act, he rams through the Iraq War, he rams through Homeland Security.

So along comes Katrina, with several days notice, and we have a full blown catastrophe with Homeland Security looking like the Keystone Kops. Nothing is done right. Nothing is done efficiently. This is with several days notice.

What would happen if terrorists blew up those levees? How much worse would it have been.

It suddenly hit the American people that we are not any safer now than we were on 9/10, that there has been a lot of huffing and puffing but nothing really done.

The response to 9/11 was the foundation of Bush's popularity. Katrina exposed it. That is the main reason for Bush's popularity fall.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 08:09 am
yeah, olga! shame on you people! and look at how those sudanese are treating their people! there! and how about them gypsies? they are treated nastily, too! and and and all sorts of other people! so everybody should leave us ___ (insert your own nationality) alone and sort their own mess out first! beat that !
constructive, ain't it?
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 11:10 am
msolga

mornin' ma'm. You've noted the sort of responses to Katrina (and other earlier events/decisions) which seem to be common to folks looking in at the US from outside. I expect you have a lot of that right, too. If there was some magical means of measuring the number of times per day Americans abroad - ambassadorial staffs, artists, NGO folks, etc - felt utterly shamed at their country's leaders' actions, I can't think what historical period would match this one. kelticwizard looks at the response to Katrina from the vantage point inside America.

kelticwizard wrote:
Quote:
The response to 9/11 was the foundation of Bush's popularity. Katrina exposed it. That is the main reason for Bush's popularity fall.


I think so. But I'll toss in a couple of other factors that seem to me to pop out in relief.

Your point goes to competence. Specifically, competence in protecting American citizens where they live in their communities. The explicit and implicit claims/promises regarding how governmental reorganization post 9-11 constituted significant improvements to this end came pretty badly acropper - and very visibly so. But I think there is more to it. I'll posit four other tightly related elements (trying and finally failing to avoid the cliche of Katrina as 'the perfect storm)... administration principals nowhere to be seen; the cronyism element; class and race inequalities; the media; the wizard of oz curtain unveiling thing.

1) administration principals nowhere to be seen

The days it took for these numbskulls to understand the level of civic and human disaster had a huge PR consequence for how they were perceived as leaders. They looked uninvolved and uncaring. They behaved, or seemed to, very much like powdered-wig 17th century aristocrats, content in their selfish wealth and priviledge. This perception hit directly into the heart of the image which their PR machine has been working to create for rather a long time...we could go back a ways and recall that during the 92 Republican convention in Houston reporters were kept away from certain areas of the airport so that they wouldn't be able to photograph all the fatcat private jets landing. Wrong image altogether.

Bush Jr's image-makers had been very successful in convincing many Americans that gosh, heck, he'd grown up a simple fella there in texas who didn't have much use for Washington types and for learnin' and he just kind of wanted to drive his truck, toss back the odd beer, and engage in humble conversations with the plastic jesus hanging from his rear-view mirror. A real American, in other words. The truth, of course, was just about completely opposite, except for the learnin' part.

Even if we look at Bush's post 9-11 response (which you compare Katrina to) we can see the image people furiously busy, at the time and in terms of myth-creation later. What, after all, did he do? He used photo-ops well. He got on TV lots and spoke inspirational words written by his image people. He set to facilitating war with Afghanistan and Iraq. He told Americans to go shopping. And of course, all of that followed upon the ten blank-eyed minutes in that elementary schoolroom, and the hours after when he disappeared. There are uncomfortable similarities between the post 9-11 response and the Katrina response and they relate directly to problems with Bush's personal competence. When not scripted, he looks as incompetent as he is. And that level of incompetence in the Presidency is really not much different from having no one there.

2) the cronyism element

"You're doing a great job, brownie". There's a quote for this presidency. If Bush had not said this on TV (some image-maker's idea of showing Bush on top of it, full of care, and with a great team supporting him) then I think the PR disaster of Katrina would have been considerably less. It pointed out, as time went by over the next while, just how opposite from the desired image the reality really was. It demonstrated how positions of trust and responsibility were handed out for partisan reasons, family friendship reasons, ideological reasons, etc. Wrong reasons - if one considers that government ought to really be about the betterment of opportunities for citizens and not about the oligarchical control of priviledge and wealth.

3) class and race

This element is tied directly to the others above. The social distance between the Arabian Horse Association/Yale sorority life of Bush/Brownie and that of the folks we all saw in New Orleans is unbreachable. It put the lie to PR attempts to portray Bush and his administration as regular people. Americans understood, I think, in a way that many hadn't really faced, how the folks in charge really might not be motivated by the common peoples' best interests. Particularly if poor and if black. "Compassion" has been a central promise from Bush and modern conservatism, and all the ways in which that promise was shown to be betrayed - really little more than PR - during Katrina hit home for citizens. And the press noted this because it was such a contradiction to the traditional understanding of the role that government ought to have in Americans' lives.

4) the press

Katrina marked a distinct change in how the press spoke to power in the US. Many newscasters and print press on site in Louisiana and working out of their offices were personally moved and offended by all the above, and they began yelling. Where benefit of the doubt had been given Bush and his administration so often before, and where deference had been shown to the office of the Presidency, now these civil servants were under daily attack for their abject failings to fulfill their contracts as leaders in American democracy as understood by the people.

5) wizard of oz thing

Bush was now perceived in a reality-based light. All the PR machinations became much more visible, if not in specifics, in general. The majority of citizens now do not trust Bush to be competent or even honest. He's seen increasingly to be a little guy who can't fill the shoes of his post and whose loud bells and whistles PR deceptions ring hollow and false.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 12:56 pm
I suppose you are right Bernie but all the things you mention,if looked at from an international socialist perspective rather than a home based one,can equally be said to explain America's declining popularity in the wider world.

As socialism has no frontiers is there a reason why Mr Bush won't laugh at you when,in principle,the American people are in exactly the same corner you paint him into vis-a-vis the world's poor.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 01:38 pm
spendius wrote:
I suppose you are right Bernie but all the things you mention,if looked at from an international socialist perspective rather than a home based one,can equally be said to explain America's declining popularity in the wider world.

As socialism has no frontiers is there a reason why Mr Bush won't laugh at you when,in principle,the American people are in exactly the same corner you paint him into vis-a-vis the world's poor.


dagmarka wrote:
so everybody should leave us ___ (insert your own nationality) alone and sort their own mess out first! beat that !
constructive, ain't it?


She had you pegged from the start.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 01:39 pm
I know a number of folks who started asking the question: "Where the f*** is the National Guard and/or the Army?"

Oh yeah... Iraq.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 01:41 pm
And the Meier's nomination pissed off a buncha people, too.

Lots of jokes running around about why didn't he nominate his accountant to run the Fed.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 03:26 pm
spendius wrote:
I suppose you are right Bernie but all the things you mention,if looked at from an international socialist perspective rather than a home based one,can equally be said to explain America's declining popularity in the wider world.

As socialism has no frontiers is there a reason why Mr Bush won't laugh at you when,in principle,the American people are in exactly the same corner you paint him into vis-a-vis the world's poor.


spendie

I don't have longterm data on how the world community has changed its mind as regards positive/negative notions of America. But lots of polling has been done and published as regards this question from the point of 9-11 through the present, and that is nosedive stuff related to the war, boastful arrogance, the presumptions which facilitate and justify unilateralism, attacks on the UN, and disregard for treaty mechanisms, etc. But I don't have a good grasp on, say, statistical change as regards this question from the Eisenhower period through until now. Nor do I have any reliable sense of how the rest of the Western world's nations (who have all enjoyed prosperity quite unimaginable to much of the third world) would fare in such a poll.

I confess I've never read Marx or other socialist theorists and so I am at a loss to know what the view might be from that vantage point.
0 Replies
 
 

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