Monday, February 06, 2006
The New Voice On The Big Lie(s)Isn’t it interesting that the administration of our previous chief executive was crushed under the weight of a lie? One famous lie, uttered in response to an inappropriate inquiry that was so ludicrously distant from issues about which a nation and an informed electorate should be concerned, that it should never have been asked. We branded our President a liar and a sleaze, and came within a whisker of booting him out of the office to which we had democratically elected him. All on the whim of the party out of power, which was determined not to take "no" for an answer. Shouldn’t that tedious drama have taught us something? Given that we were so outraged by one president’s lie, shouldn’t we have been particularly sensitive to issues of integrity in our next commander-in-chief? That seems the natural way for the pendulum to have swung. Then how in the hell did we end up with the travesty of truth that we have gripping the reins of our country today?
Much of the problem lies in the fact that it’s impossible to know what is truth and what is a lie anymore. The commercialism of our nation’s news services—the vicious competition for the audience numbers/almighty ad dollars—has turned once legitimate news outlets into supermarket tabloids. "Talk radio" and in-your-face television commentators argue that the audience will be won by whoever yells the loudest. The lines between fact and fiction, news and opinion, have not simply been blurred. They’ve been obliterated. Information is not dispersed based upon its truth or importance. It’s all about what sells. And yet, in the back of our minds, we hold on to the (archaic) belief that if we read it in the paper, or see it on the news, it has to be true. There are laws against writing/airing lies…aren’t there? With all the conflicting stuff out there passing for news, the public is invited—required, even—to choose a reality. Any preconception, prejudice, or just plain misinformation you favor, you will find a media outlet that will reinforce it. Make it reasonable. Make it true.
Six years ago, Americans were still a semi-responsible electorate. We felt burned by President Clinton, yes; but even the underhanded political assaults brainstormed by Karl Rove and the Republican political machine were not enough to convince us that Bush and his crew were the answer. Calling in favors and twisting arms, the GOP managed to come down with the jump ball of the 2000 election. They spun their wheels for eleven months, until 9/11 fell into their laps like manna from heaven. Suddenly, the ill-spoken, dull-witted Texas oil spawn who had sneaked in the back door of the Oval Office became a War President. Shell-shocked and burdened with a national media in such a disgraceful state that it was ripe for manipulation, we handed Bush and the Texas cartel the keys to the kingdom. And to say that they carpe’d the diem would be an understatement.
And so, they lie. Daily. About things that really matter—to the US, and to the world. They lie about Sadaam Hussein’s ties to Osama Bin Laden. They lie about WMD in Iraq. About "bad intelligence," and taking the war to the terrorists before they can attack us again. About torture, and patriotism, and domestic spying. They lie about ties to lobbyists and their dirty money, and about felonious leaks of classified information. About who and what their tax breaks are really designed to benefit. About energy prices and the control of the flow of oil throughout the country. About environmental issues and global climate change. About the progress of their ill-conceived war against an innocent people. And, still, we hear about what a degenerate liar Bill Clinton was, and how Mr. Bush is doing such a great job in the face of unfair opposition. Our well-informed electorate is doing a heckuva job discerning the truth!
Miraculously, after five years of dumbly inhabiting the World According to GOP, the American people have shown signs of wising up. And the administration has reacted. But in their desperation to close the gaps and tighten their grip, they’ve become careless. They’ve begun to tip their alarming hand. Ooops…news leaks about unwarranted wiretapping. Uh-oh…cameras catch Capitol Police carting off Cindy Sheehan for wearing a t-shirt. Shoot…more pesky photos and reports of dead or tortured detainees keep popping up.
We’re getting slapped upside the head here, folks. If even the most blind among us don’t come out of our stupor and see these incidents for the red flags they are, then we will be damned to the government we deserve.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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