Monday 10 March 2003

Is the emperor naked, or stark naked?

The presidential press conference

According to an old adage, even lies should make some sense. This is a rule that the president of the United States—for reasons that are principally political but also partly neurological—is unable to observe. The political aims of the Bush administration require such a blatant and continuous falsification of reality that all connection is lost between what the president says and what masses of people generally perceive. The lies of the administration necessarily assume, therefore, a grotesque “in your face” character.

Matters are not helped by the fact that the president lacks the mental capacity, let alone the intellectual discipline, to construct a logical argument. Yet, no matter how absurd and illogical his statements, the people are expected to accept, without thought or reflection, whatever the president says. That is, they are expected to behave like the personnel of the mass media.

In the hours leading up to the president’s press conference of Thursday night, the media predicted that Bush would use the occasion to explain to the American people why the invasion of Iraq is necessary and unavoidable. What he actually provided was a monotonous litany of obvious lies and non sequiturs.

Speaking before a small and vetted audience of media hacks, who understood that they were not to question, even indirectly, the legitimacy of the administration’s drive to war, Bush intoned the standard mindless slogans, revolving endlessly around the same apocalyptic theme: the imminent threat posed by the devil incarnate, Saddam Hussein, and his Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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