There’s something in human nature that makes us avoid accepting bad news. As long as we can point to reasonable doubt – another possible explanation – we don’t let the bad news sink in. Especially if acceptance means we have to do something we don’t want to do, or to believe a particularly unpleasant truth.
So Republicans have learned that it is a remarkably effective tactic to come up with a “cover story” that they spread when they want to do something that the public is otherwise not going to like. Lay down a fog of words to confuse and get people arguing and keep people from becoming activated, and they can go ahead and do pretty much anything they want.
For example, “a few bad apples” did bad things in the Iraqi prisons. That’s the cover story, and Bush is sticking to it.
Look at this story in yesterday’s NY Times, “White House Is Trumpeting Programs It Tried to Cut“. From the story,
For example, Justice Department officials recently announced that they were awarding $47 million to scores of local law enforcement agencies for the hiring of police officers. Mr. Bush had just proposed cutting the budget for the program, known as Community Oriented Policing Services, by 87 percent, to $97 million next year, from $756 million.
The administration has been particularly energetic in publicizing health programs, even ones that had been scheduled for cuts or elimination.
[. . .] The administration also announced recently that it was providing $11.6 million to the states so they could buy defibrillators to save the lives of heart attack victims. But Mr. Bush had proposed cutting the budget for such devices by 82 percent, to $2 million from $10.9 million.
Etc. Say one thing even while doing something completely different. Who are you going to believe, the nice words containing pretty promises of pleasant prosperity, or your own lying eyes?
Remember the “Healthy Forests Initiative?” That’s the one where they cut down the trees to prevent fires. It’s designed to enrich logging companies, while the cover story is that it helps the forests stay healthy. And the “Clear Skies Initiative” that lets power generators increase pollution of the air? Their words are not matching their actions.
Here’s an even better example, in yesterday’s Washington Post, “Bushwhacked In the Caribbean.” The Bush administration is demanding that Caribbean countries renounce their commitment to democracy. From the piece,
The Bush administration[‘s]demand[s] that the democratic countries of the Caribbean [. . .] (3) abandon their policy of admitting only democratically elected governments into the councils of Caricom.
[. . .] The United States’ demand that Caricom abandon its long-held insistence on democratic principles is psychic poison to the region.
Haiti was welcomed as a full member of Caricom because its people had established a democratic form of government. After the recent shattering of that democracy, Caribbean heads of government decided to maintain support for the people of Haiti but allow democratic elections to determine who will represent Haiti in the councils of Caricom. “We are the children of slaves,” one Caribbean national explained. “And so, we stay away from the tyranny of the unelected. . . . If America thinks that an unelected government is fine for Haiti, when will they say that an unelected government is best for my country?”
The Bush administration, however, has been implacable. Its officials were to have come to the Caribbean in April and May to discuss, among other things, terrorism, but the administration presented Caribbean governments with an ultimatum: no recognition of Latortue, no meetings between the United States and the Caribbean leaders. Caricom reminded U.S. officials that Latortue was not elected by anyone. And so the meetings are off. Why is the unelected Latortue more important to the Bush administration than the Caribbean’s 14 democratically elected governments?
Now remember, Bush says the Iraq invasion and occupation (after the WMD cover story was dropped) is about bringing democracy to the region, because that is what America is about. But when you look at what the U.S. under Bush actually DOES, this immediately falls apart. Bringing democracy is a cover story.
So how do we deal with this? How do we cut through the words they spread? Most – but not all – people in the old Soviet Union came to understand that their government lied. They came to recognize propaganda and read between the lines. So it stopped working. And in America now, we must also learn to look only at what they DO, and ignore what they say. We must learn that the Right’s words are only designed to confuse and obfuscate. The words are only cover stories, designed to make us forget what our own eyes can see. They just lie. We have to develop skills for overcoming the power of their words, their cover stories, and learn to believe only what they do.
They just lie. Look at what they do, always ignore what they say.
These Republicans thought they could go into Iraq and do what they do here – lay down a fog of words to cover their actions. But in Iraq the people had lived under a lying dictator and had already learned to watch what happens and not to rely on the words. It’s second nature. This is why so many are so angry at us now. They know to look at what happens, not what is said, and they can see with their eyes that what is happening there is not what we say is happening. They can see that we are not at all doing what we say we are, they see the contradictions, they see the contracts given to connected Americans, they see their economy changed to benefit the wealthy, they see the oil being taken, they see the treatment they receive from us, and they know that what is really going on is different from what we say. Bush speaks of us as a noble power, bringing hope and light and democracy and prosperity to the rest of the world. But the rest of the world sees what is happening and hates us for it.
Sadly, sadly, America has changed, and now we must learn to look for what actually happens, and ignore the pretty, enticing words.