George And The Amazing
Technicolor Dreamtie

By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout Perspective
The first thing you got was the tie.
You lost the importance of the press conference. You lost the fact that Bush had only done two of these prime time gigs in his entire term, and that he hates them because he isn't good at them. You lost the fact that the 9/11 Commission had been punching him and his administration around the room for the last couple of weeks. You lost the fact that September 11 had been demystified, that the going wisdom now says it could have been stopped by an administration that was actually paying attention. You lost the fact that almost 80 American soldiers and something like 900 Iraqis had been killed in the last month of fighting, that almost 700 American soldiers have been killed since the invasion was undertaken, and that, oh by the way, there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
You lost all of that and were left with the tie around Bush's neck, the gray spotted tie that was flashing and heliographing in the camera's eye like something out of a Hunter S. Thompson fever dream, the mesmerizing swirl of reds and yellows and purples and blues that left the whole press conference behind in a hypnotizing, dazzling, inebriating swirl of flummoxed technology which almost certainly caused Americans from sea to shining sea to lean towards their televisions and exclaim, "Holy Christ, Marjorie, look at the man's necktie!"
But then the shock of the collision between necktie and television wore off, and you were left with the man, and his words, and certainly the most ridiculous press conference since Al Haig blithered about being in charge after Hinckley put a bullet into Ronald Reagan. They sacked Haig pretty much on the spot after that sad display. Would that the American people in the year of our Lord 2004 could be so lucky.
Leaving aside the fact that Bush sounded for all the world like he was speaking through a mouthful of glue - and they say John Kerry is boring on the stump? - the preamble to this train wreck of a press conference is worthy of some analysis:
GWB: This has been tough weeks in that country.
WRP: Huh?
GWB: Coalition forces have encountered serious violence in some areas of Iraq.
WRP: You don't say.
GWB: In the south of Iraq, coalition forces face riots and attacks that are being incited by a radical cleric named al-Sadr.
WRP: And you know why? Because your goober proconsul Paul Bremer shut down al-Sadr's piddly little tabloid newspaper on April 4, giving this pampered brat more street cred than he ever had before. He had plenty of people to whip into a frenzy against American forces, George, because your whole project in Iraq has been utterly devoid of meaning, direction, or even coherent planning. You went and made a free-speech martyr out of al-Sadr by closing down his newspaper, lighting a fuse that has left dozens of Americans and hundreds of Iraqis dead. Kudos, Chief.
GWB: As a proud, independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation, and neither does America. We're not an imperial power, as nations such as Japan and Germany can attest. We're a liberating power, as nations in Europe and Asia can attest as well.
WRP: Brilliant. American military forces remain in Germany and Japan to this very day. That's not much of an object lesson. As for being a 'liberating power' in Asia, I can't imagine you are referring to Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos.
GWB: Were the coalition to step back from the June 30th pledge, many Iraqis would question our intentions and feel their hopes betrayed. And those in Iraq who trade in hatred and conspiracy theories would find a larger audience and gain a stronger hand.
WRP: I can't be sure how up on current events you are, George, but that horse pretty much left the barn.
GWB: In Fallujah, coalition forces have suspended offensive operations, allowing members of the Iraqi Governing Council and local leaders to work on the restoration of central authority in that city. These leaders are communicating with the insurgents to ensure an orderly turnover of that city to Iraqi forces, so that the resumption of military action does not become necessary.
WRP: Translation - American forces were totally shocked by the fury of the Iraqi people after this catastrophe of a military adventure, further shocked by the alliance between Shia and Sunni, and betrayed by ham-handed actions like Bremer's decision to shut down al-Sadr's nothing newspaper. Because the Iraqi fighters seemed perfectly capable of killing dozens of Americans at will, and because this was a political mess for you right during election season, you were forced to sue for a 'cease-fire' with the people you had supposedly defeated. The result of this will be an Iraqi military opposition in Falluja and Najaf that has had time to regroup and rearm. Congratulations. You're about to get even more people killed.
GWB: The violence we are seeing in Iraq is familiar. The terrorists who take hostages or plants a roadside bomb near Baghdad is serving the same ideology of murder that kills innocent people on trains in Madrid, and murders children on buses in Jerusalem, and blows up a nightclub in Bali and cuts the throat of a young reporter for being a Jew. We've seen the same ideology of murder in the killing of 241 Marines in Beirut, the first attack on the World Trade Center, in the destruction of two embassies in Africa, in the attack on the USS Cole, and in the merciless horror inflicted upon thousands of innocent men and women and children on September the 11th, 2001.
WRP: Two problems, one of which is the same grammar catastrophe you appear incapable of avoiding. You say "The terrorists serving..." Come on, George. "The terrorists who...are serving..." is the way to work that English language. Make it yours, George. Work it. Beyond that, the fact that you have again connected Iraq to September 11 - and, boy, Beirut was just out of nowhere - is shameful and disgraceful. Just stop. This has been batted down more times than a Serena Williams forehand.
GWB: The terrorists have lost the shelter of the Taliban and the training camps in Afghanistan. They have lost safe havens in Pakistan.
WRP: Um, no. Because you took the best troops out of Afghanistan and threw them into Iraq, the Taliban and al Qaeda are pretty much running around free there again. They have free and open access to Pakistan for the same reason. I hear the heroin crop in Afghanistan this year is going to be simply divine, which works in your favor if you think about it. After all, what good is a severe economic downturn if there isn't cheap access to good smack?
GWB: They lost an ally in Baghdad.
WRP: They never had an ally in Baghdad. Again, this allegation has been disproven more times than Piltdown man. You need to get some new material, George. I suggest invading France immediately. It's not like those cheese-eating surrender monkeys were dead-bang right about this invasion being a disaster in the making. A good military stomping will shut them up, and you can bring back the Freedom Fries fad.
GWB: We will succeed in Iraq. We're carrying out a decision that has already been made and will not change.
WRP: Yup, you made the decision the day you showed up in Washington with your band of neocon Vulcans. Never let pesky things like facts get in the way of a decision that has already been made.
That's about as much of that as anyone could stand. My mother had called me by this point screaming, "This is a President? I feel like I want to cry!" I had to break it to her that the worst was yet to come. The press were about to get their shot. Seldom in human history have so many pointed questions gone so amazingly unanswered. Some examples which speak for themselves:
QUESTION: Mr. President, before the war, you and members of your administration made several claims about Iraq: that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators with sweets and flowers; that Iraqi oil revenue would pay for most of the reconstruction; and that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction but, as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, we know where they are. How do you explain to Americans how you got that so wrong? And how do you answer your opponents who say that you took this nation to war on the basis of what have turned out to be a series of false premises?
GWB: Well, let me step back and review my thinking prior to going into Iraq. First, the lesson of September the 11th is that when this nation sees a threat, a gathering threat, we got to deal with it. We can no longer hope that oceans protect us from harm. Every threat we must take seriously. Saddam Hussein was a threat. He was a threat because he had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people. He was a threat because he coddled terrorists. He was a threat because he funded suiciders. He was a threat to the region. He was a threat to the United States.
And we've been there a year. I know that seems like a long time. It seems like a long time to the loved ones whose troops have been overseas. But when you think about where the country has come from, it's a relatively short period of time. And we're making progress. There's no question it's been a tough, tough series of weeks for the American people. It's been really tough for the families. I understand that. It's been tough on this administration. But we're doing the right thing. And as to whether or not I made decisions based upon polls, I don't. I just don't make decisions that way. I fully understand the consequences of what we're doing. We're changing the world, and the world will be better off and America will be more secure as a result of the actions we're taking.
WRP: Ooooookay...raise your hand if you see an answer in there? There are no weapons of mass destruction, despite the fact that Rumsfeld said he knew where they were - and it bears mention that Bush referred to Rumsfeld in his preamble as the Secretary of State. We were hardly welcomed as liberators, and the oil infrastructure is in total disarray. No answers from George. And as far as "We're changing the world" goes, George, there's an old saying: Any jackass can knock down a barn. You change the barn when you smash it, but not many people would label it an improvement. Good thing your triumphalist streak is under control, though.
Moving on:
QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you and the vice president insisting on appearing together before the 9-11 commission? And, Mr. President, who will we be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30th?
GWB: We'll find that out soon. That's what Mr. Brahimi is doing. He's figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over. And, secondly, because the 9-11 commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.
FOLLOW-UP: I was asking why you're appearing together, rather than separately, which was their request.
GWB: Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9-11 commission is looking forward to asking us. And I'm looking forward to answering them.
WRP: The talking heads before this press conference were saying it was absolutely, positively vital for Bush to deliver some sort of coherent plan for the immediate future of Iraq, including the handover. Here was a perfect opportunity to explain that plan, and George punted. You'll know when I know, hyuk hyuk hyuk. As for the whole thing about Bush and Cheney appearing together, the answer is pretty plain. George doesn't know much of anything about how his administration is being run, as was made horrifyingly clear in this event. Dick needs to be there to work the strings. The 9/11 Commission couldn't do much with "I love America, I love freedom, I love America, freedom, America, democracy, pzzzzcheeeeezzzz..." That's about all Bush could give them without a wingman.
Moving on:
QUESTION: In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9-11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9-11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have learned from it?
GWB: I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it. John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could've done it better this way or that way. You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet. I would've gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would've called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein. See, I'm of the belief that we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth as to exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.
One of the things that Charlie Duelfer talked about was that he was surprised of the level of intimidation he found amongst people who should know about weapons and their fear of talking about them because they don't want to be killed. You know, there's this kind of -- there's a terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq. They're worried about getting killed, and therefore they're not going to talk. But it'll all settle out, John. We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time. However, the fact that he had the capacity to make them bothers me today just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually not only had weapons of mass destruction -- the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them. And I have no doubt in my mind that he would like to have inflicted harm, or paid people to inflict harm, or trained people to inflict harm, on America, because he hated us. I hope -- I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.
WRP: So much of this question and answer sums up the entire issue that squats incoherently before the American people, and never mind the tacit admission that he is helpless if he doesn't get the questions beforehand. Even Nixon admitted making mistakes. Have you made any mistakes, George? The Towers came down, the Taliban and al Qaeda are back in force in Afghanistan, there are about 700 dead American soldiers and well over 10,000 dead Iraqis in the Middle East, there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they had nothing to do with September 11, Osama bin Laden has been given this great gift because we invaded a Muslim country on a nonexistent pretext, and by the way we failed to catch the guy "Dead or Alive," we have manufactured thousands more terrorists with this invasion, the budget is annihilated, the Homeland Security Department is a total boondoggle...nope, I can't think of any mistakes. By the way, the Iraqi WMDs are hidden at a turkey farm. Pass it on.
The tie only worked for a minute. After that, the only thing hypnotizing on the television was this small fraction of a man playing at being Presidential while the world crashes down around his ears.
God help us all.
William Rivers Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for t r u t h o u t. He is a New York Times and international bestselling author of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'
© : t r u t h o u t 2004



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