Saturday, March 24, 2007

when image trumps substance

many times in politics, people become powerful or weak based on perception...this conception of a person comes from media coverage, how they carry themselves and how they react to the situation around them.

The Iraq war has been one of those things from the beginning, which is why those in favor of the war keep home alive that if only they could show enough newly painted schools, all those mass executions and suicide bombings would fade into the background. We went to war with Iraq because we felt scared, afraid after the first major foreign attack on US soil since 1812. During this period of fear, anthrax was mailed to Senate Democrats and prominant news anchors. [The targets to me have always seemed very right-wing: Daschle, Lehey, and one but a right-winger obsessed with judges and the "liberal media" would have picked those folks] In the end, only a few people with weak immune systems died (like elderly women).

During this period of trembling, the President, the VP, the president's chief of staff, the president's national security advisor, the secretary of defense, and other prominant officials gave the impression that Iraq was on the verge of getting nuclear weapons and still had biological weapons like anthrax. they warned that these weapons could be delivered to US troops stationed in the region and to our allies like Israel.

Afriad of seeming weak on National Security, Senate Democrats listened to Joe Lieberman, half of them voting for the war...including Biden, Dodd, Kerry, Edwards, and Clinton.

Finally, in 2006, Democrats stopped being afriad. They are no longer in fear of a president whose ratings hover between the high 20s and low 30s. They no longer fear a GOP smear machine after the American people have come out overwhelmingly against the war and started to self-identify themselves as Democrats.

Sure, the supplimental is far from perfect. I thought Murtha's proposal sounded reasonable, and I don't understand why the no attacking Iran portion of the bill was omitted, but in the end, it doesn't matter. The AP version of the story that I read in the Richmond Times-Dispatch focused on the message that Democrats want: Democrats wish to end this war, and Republicans want to stay beside their disaster of a president. Sure it barely passed, and sure 2 Republicans voted for it so 2 more liberal democrats could vote their conscience, but the message was won by Pelosi. Paragraph one was the spin they wanted, paragraph two was her quote, paragraph three talked about the 2 GOPers and the dissent within the party, but then the next graphs talked about Bush's opposition. It wasn't until the fold that the details of the bill were laid out.

And for a lot of people, the details are boring. Kerry's "I voted for it, before I voted against it" became the impression of him, not what he ment by that and why he decided to vote for the war but against an appropriations. Hillary's nuanced position on the war is coming across as pro-war, and Obama's position is coming across as anti-war, much to Bill's chagrin.

The image of president Bush these days is of an angry man who has lost touch with reality rattling around the White House as his presidency collapses around him. His Attorney General is a dead man walking, with no credibility with Congress (Republicans don't like being lied to that much either). His secretary of state suffers from the same disbelief abroad. VP Cheney is only welcome on Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and BYU...and even there he might face the music.

Sorry for the sporatic posting of late, I am visiting with the In-laws in Richmond...I am off to see Jamestown, the 400th year of its existance.

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