First of all, Bush was obviously drunk (just like Nixon in his last press conference). As ever, the booze loosened him up; and, moreover, at this candid final moment he did not feel any need to fake humane or idealistic feelings. So he spoke with an unusual coherence, offering no rich grammatical and/or syntactical mistakes.
What we got, then, was a powerful display of Bush's perfect moral imbecility. Did he make any mistakes? Tellingly, the only ones that he could think of were theatrical missteps—i.e., propaganda moves that didn't work right. It was a mistake, he said, to put up that big banner ("MISSION ACCOMPLISHED") on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Why? Not because it was a lie, and not because it was a grandiose attempt to use the war, and those who fought in it, to score points for himself. No, it was a mistake because it didn't make the point that (he now claimed) they really meant to make. (He didn't say what that point was.)
And Katrina? Well, maybe his "mistake" there was not landing Air Force One in New Orleans or Baton Rouge. After all, if he'd done that, it would have sent a more convincing message of his deep concern for all those victims of the hurricane. (But if he'd landed Air Force One in New Orleans, he complained, "the critics" would have yapped about his interference with the rescure effort.) That he and his were criminally negligent throughout that episode (and have continued to ignore that ravaged area ever since), and that they thereby turned a big disaster into a catastrophe, is one "mistake" that Bush couldn't even bother to deny--because he couldn't (and will never) even see it as a problem.
Were there disappointments? Well, he said in passing, it was certainly a disappointment that those "weapons of mass destruction" never actually turned up. There are no words to capture the pure (banal) evil of that utterance. A gruesome war ensued because of his team's mad insistence that those weapons were stowed somewhere in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands dead and maimed, that nation devastated, our economy kaput, and all the world now filled with loathing for America—and Bush shows no remorse for it, or even any dim awareness of those consequences, but only "disappointment" that they didn't find the weapons. That there were no such weapons in the first place is another monstrous fact that Bush apparently can't grasp, or no longer even knows, assuming that he ever did. The only thing that seems to bug him is that that still-missing arsenal messed up the show.
Watch the whole performance, and you'll see that Bush's mind is totally fixated on the failure or success of his team's propaganda. Did it win the day, and dazzle the reporters, and jack up his ratings? Or did it fail because of this "mistake" or that unlucky "disappointment," making all "the critics" bark, and driving down his ratings even more? That's really all he's ever thought about—which is another way of saying that he's never really thought at all. It also tells us that he couldn't (and will never) tell the difference between propaganda and reality. That's a weakness common to all tyrants who've been on the job too long; but (as I demonstrated in The Bush Dyslexicon) Bush's mental eye has been thus clouded from the start, and only got more clouded after Cheney made him Emperor just after 9/11.
This, then, is the man who—although unelected—was, by and large, defended, and at crucial times applauded, by "the liberal media" (although, typically, he sees himself as their long-suffering punching-bag). It was not until last year that they turned noticeably critical; and even then they pulled their punches, and still do (as in their over-tactful coverage of this press conference). Thus his blind, vindictive reign is, finally, their fault, even if the blindness and vindictiveness are all his own (and, of course, Dick Cheney's).
Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media ecology at New York University, recently edited a book about voting fraud, Loser Take All, a compendium of investigative reports. Miller researches such topics as modern propaganda, history and tactics of advertising, American film, and media ownership. His recent books include The Bush Dyslexicon and Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order.
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