The Better Rhetor

Friday, April 11, 2003
From Spin to Strut

At the very first sign of military difficulty in Iraq, when Americans started getting killed and captured, and the Iraqi people weren’t swarming into the streets to greet us as liberators, the hawks who had pushed so hard for war began spinning so vigorously it’s surprising their heads weren’t detached from their necks.

Uber-hawk Donald Rumsfeld made clear that "the plan," i.e., the bright shining military plan that suddenly and unexpectedly looked tarnished, was in fact "Tommy Frank’s plan," meaning that Franks would take the fall if the whole thing blew up. Meanwhile, administration chickenhawks Dick (We Will Be Greeted as Liberators) Cheney, Kenneth (It Will Be a Cakewalk) Adelman, and the odious Richard (The Enemy Will Collapse at the First Whiff of Gunpowder) Perle, were all desperately bobbing and weaving away from their own arrogant predictions and trying, we assume, to salvage their careers if the whole thing ended in disaster.

But then the U.S. military bailed them out, at least for the time being. Saddam’s Hussein’s regime indeed collapsed, and while there are many questions yet to answer, the hawks are now doing their victory dance in the end zone. First there was Cheney’s crowing about the the wisdom of the military plan, suddenly lustrous again, followed by Kenneth Adelman’s piece of self-congratulatory puffery, in which the former Reagan advisor could say, in so many words, "Nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah-nyah!"

We might find it comical if so may people hadn't died as a result of all this hubris. Meanwhile, here’s one prediction that never required any spinning or revisions. From an interview with Noam Chomsky, back in December:

Q: Do you think the Bush Administration is bluffing about attacking Iraq?

Chomsky: Not at all. I think they are desperately eager to win an easy victory over a defenseless enemy, so they can strut around as heroes and liberators, to the rousing cheers of the educated classes. It’s as old as history.

Watch for the strutting. More to follow. At least until things turn bad again, when the strutting reverts to spinning.

Some Things Are Beyond Comment

But that’s never true here. We have finally have comments! Thanks to Patrick at Bombs Over Bloghdad! for showing me how to set it up.

Sunday, April 06, 2003
I Had This Dream About Donald Rumsfeld

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

—Percy Bysshe Shelly’s Ozymandias, recalled for me by You Got Style.

Credit Where It’s Due

No sooner do I write that the major media are unwilling to deviate from Official Truth by considering anti-U.S. perspectives on the war, and not 24 hours after I name 60 Minutes as a chief culprit, than does 60 Minutes run this credible piece by Ed Bradley exploring Jordanian anger toward the U.S. as a result of the U.S. invasion.

Kudos Ed Bradley. Kudos Don Hewitt.