"The censor believes that he can hold back the mighty traffic of life with a tin whistle and a raised right hand. For after all, it is life with which he quarrels." ~ Heywood Broun
Friendly Fire: Bush Strafes Syntax, Bombs Logic
I had resolved not to watch the presidential speech Monday night. The integrity of my television's cathode ray tube was at stake. Predictably, my resolve withered in the face of the rare opportunity to see the Mad Cowboy on national television sporting scuffed up face and vicarious stigmata from a poetically justified bicycle crash. (Dear Mr. President, How to save the world: Try eating pretzels whilst riding your bicycle. Sincerely, Matthew.) The setting also beckoned like a licentious siren: The War College. The War President at The War College . Orwell cackles madly from the grave. The make-up artists did an admirable job--both on Bush's injured face and on the text of his speech. My resolve to skip the festivities, and catch the tightly filtered version in the media, was well founded. Previous Bush forays onto live television have incited me into a confusing mash of hysterical laughter and blind, seething rage. The rancid pablum, glaring malapropisms, torturous logic, and jingoistic chest thumping never cease to amaze, confound and infuriate. Sadly, he didn't disappoint.
As if we needed more evidence of Bush's total disconnect from reality. There is, it seems, a little prison in Baghdad . It's been in the news some, lately, I understand. Have you heard of it? The name is spelled A-b-u G-h-r-a-i-b. Pronounced "a" (like apple)-"boo"-"grayb." Apparently our intrepid leader is not all that familiar with it, either. He mispronounced it three times: "abugah-rayp," "abu-garon," and "abu-garah." A minor thing, perhaps, but also quite revealing, this. It has been a few years, but I'm fairly certain I learned in Public Speaking 101 that mispronouncing the name of a person, place or thing ONCE, let alone three times, undermines the speaker's credibility. Not to mention revealing an embarrassing lack of preparation. Here is a name, Abu Ghraib, we have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times over the last month. If we are paying but a modicum of attention as private citizens, we surely know the correct pronunciation. And yet the man in charge of the goons who have sent this country's credibility back into the age of Cotton Mather and the Salem witch trials cannot utter it correctly in three attempts. The devil is in the details, indeed.
There is obviously something else at work here, aside from Bush's legendary oratorical ineptitude. At best, he is blithely unaware of the seriousness of this scandal and the irreparable damage done to his proclaimed vision of America as 'right,' 'just' and 'peace loving.' At worst, he simply doesn't care. This is in tune with his earlier remarks about 'taking the training wheels off.' The utter arrogance and patronizing superiority of such a statement is stunning. That he retains the ability to stun is, well, stunning. No matter the mindless drivel he may utter at any given moment, we can be sure it won't be long before he outdoes himself yet again. Such subconsciously pretentious remarks toward the Iraqis make it grotesquely obvious that Bush considers them, at best, na've and childish. Such childlike insouciance is best dealt with by force, in Bush's world. Indeed, it may be fairly argued he regards all who disagree with him as petulant, misbehaving children. Pat them on the head a couple of times with soothing words. If that doesn't work, kick their little miscreant behinds. Uncover their CIA operative spouses, a la Joseph Wilson. Impugn their competence and credibility, a la Richard Clarke. Kill their families, blow up their houses and throw them in prison, a la thousands of anonymous Iraqis. See how they like that.
To be fair, he did offer at least one touching gesture. He is not a complete tyrant. His magnanimity will soon be manifest in a shiny new prison, in which to house all of those hard-core, freshly minted 'terrorists.' Abu Garah is to be demolished 'as a fitting symbol of Iraq 's new beginning.' (How many new beginnings have we seen, since 'Mission Accomplished'? What the hell. Who's counting anyway?) What a glorious way to usher in a new era. Tear down one prison and build another. Maybe they can use it on the new Iraqi flag. The rubble of Abugah rayp on one side and Abugah rayp, The Sequel on the other. Hell, they could fly that baby down on the ranch in Crawford--a 'fitting symbol' of Bush's historic reign as Governor of the lethal injection capital of the 'free' world. The man knows a thing or two about building and filling prisons. It's rather surprising Abu Ghraib hasn't already been leveled and hauled away. Seems as though they would want to destroy and bury any lingering evidence of administrative culpability, a la Waco , Oklahoma City and Ground Zero.
But wait, new prisons may beckon but there is more. Those providentially graced Iraqis will enjoy their new skookum-house as they simultaneously bask in the glow of 'full sovereignty'--deigned with such noble generosity by the benevolent protector of their freedom and bomber of their illicit wedding parties. Full sovereignty! It rolls off the tongue with mellifluous grace and visions of glorious tomorrows. Never mind the 138,000 occupation troops, Iraqis! You will be free! June 30th will indeed be an historic occasion. For the first time in recorded history, a fully 'sovereign' nation will entertain a hostile occupying army. Reveling in their unbound autonomy, Iraqis will undoubtedly pour joyfully into the streets, while blissfully ignoring the very large, heavily armed, and peevishly inclined elephant on the corner. Add another sophistic chapter to the Bush theater of the absurd. Add another twisted aphorism to the Bush lexicon: Sovereignty is Occupation. Chisel it in just below Ignorance is Patriotism, Freedom is Surveillance, and War is Peace.