Bush's Iraq speech

Listening to Bush's speech yesterday was a fascinating study in spin. What struck me most was the alternate reality that he succeeded in constructing with his careful choice of words. My personal favorite:


At any point along the way, Saddam Hussein could have avoided war by complying with the just demands of the international community. The United States did not choose war. The choice was Saddam Hussein's.
And, I swear, I'm not cutting out anything. He goes on to directly state:
When we made the decision to go into Iraq, many intelligence agencies around the world judged that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of governments who did not support my decision to remove Saddam. And it is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.
It gets even better:
As president, I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq.
To paraphrase: The U.S. didn't choose this war; Saddam Hussein chose this war by not complying with the demands of the international community. Which were just. Except for the fact that the international community was wrong because it didn't have good intelligence. And, actually, I'm responsible for going to Iraq.

It's amazing how many seemingly assertive statements can be strung together and yet end up meaning so little. By the middle of the speech, I had tuned out, hearing only the punctuation of applause. But in my mind, the president's words had been replaced by a single quote. It's from back in 2002, and it's what one of Bush's senior aides told reporter Ron Suskind:
The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'
A good friend of mine voted for Bush back in 2000. When I asked him why, he told me that he always likes to vote for the president that seems stupider, and more harmless. Similar to journalist PJ O'Rourke who states, "I always vote Republican because Republicans have fewer ideas. Although, in the case of George W., not fewer enough." It's a lesson to all the folks out there that think Mr. Bush is just a bumbling idiot. Don't be fooled: the dude, and the people that surround this dude, know exactly what they're doing.

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