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It Must Be Clear...
Jon Prestage

It must be clear to anybody with even a meager capacity to reason that the Bush war drums are orchestrated to divert attention from domestic issues as the election approaches even as Bush is unable to build a case for an immediate war.

The one thing you can be sure of about Republicans is that they are loath to reveal their motivations. Their reasoning is simple: people would not support them if they knew their true intentions. They'd probably be run out of town. This has been a Republican tendency at least since Ronald Reagan.

For example, instead of admitting they want to give tax cuts to the wealthy, they say, a tax cut will help spark economic recovery, and they invent an economic theory called "trickle down." Instead of admitting their goal is to weaken federal entitlements ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/22/politics/22DRUG.html ), they mire the government in debt and increase defense spending, thus forcing entitlement decreases. Instead of admitting their goal to eliminate regulations requiring corporations to operate openly and responsibly, they slash regulations and then deny responsibility when their actions lead to fiascoes like Enron. Instead of admitting that they want to attack Iraq because they want to get their hands on its oil, so their friends can make even more money, they try to frighten people with claims that Saddam is poised to use weapons of mass destruction against America. It's an old Republican recipe made more venal by the absolute depths they are willing to go now to get their way. We saw this with horrifying clarity in the Florida election, when hoards of GOP thugs threatened violence against vote counters: Democracy be damned!

Complicit with these GOP deceptions is a compromised national media that allows them to shape national debate, while enabling them also to deceive the public about their real intentions. And a complicit and compromised media can sometimes be subtle.

No Time to Debate a War

A story ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/21/politics/21REPU.html ) in the September 20 edition of the New York Times by Alison Mitchell and Adam Nagourney headlined "G.O.P. Gains From War Talk but Does Not Talk About It" illustrates this point. It's a very important article for what it says, but also for what its authors don't say. The article begins:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 - Senior Republican Party Officials say the prospect of at least two more weeks of Congressional debate on Iraq is allowing their party to run out the clock on the fall election, blocking Democrats as they try to seize on the faltering economy and other domestic concerns as campaign issues.

At the same time, Republicans said that as they entered the final six weeks of contests in which control of Congress is at stake, they did not want to be perceived as exploiting the talk of war for political gain. They said they were urging candidates not to do anything that might give Democrats ammunition to turn the war against them.

So, we learn that Republicans want it both ways. On the one hand, they want the nation's agenda to be dominated by talk of war because they perceive it as helping them politically, but, on the other hand, they don't want to be perceived as exploiting the talk of war for political gain. The article goes on to quote Scott Reed, a Republican consultant, who says: "The secret to the election now is to beat the clock. Every week, you can hear the ripping noise of another page of the calendar coming off the wall. Another week has gone by. And there's only six more to go."

Sure, as long as we're talking about war and not about the sagging economy and job loss, corporate corruption, social security, global warming, a deteriorating environment, or prescription drug benefits for seniors, the GOP is content. War is fun to talk about. It scares people. It diverts them from real issues at home.

One of the subtle biases in this article is its context. It offers up political processes and maneuvering as paramount, as though there is no real world out there where people are losing jobs as the economy stumbles and their retirement funds dwindle because of corporate deceit. It is but a frivolous reality that millions of our nation's children are without health insurance or that the social security system may collapse because of the theft of its funds to make up for growing deficits caused by Bush's tax cuts and by his ineptness. These national issues are relegated to the status of mere democratic campaign issues and "democrats are running out of time to make their case," according to Mitchell and Nagourney.

But what is most irking about this article is what it does not say, even as it talks about how the GOP is using the talk of war as a campaign issue, and even as they deny it (chuckle, chuckle), and ride the wave of Bush's warmongering. The article makes no mention of the huge debate involving the timing of Bush's push for war! Not one word. There's not a hint of this immense national discussion in nearly 30 paragraphs. Not one of the "Senior Republican Party officials" and "Republican consultants" quoted is apparently asked about this issue. I'd like to know what these GOP operatives think of this impression shared by millions of American people and citizens and their leaders from across the world. I'd like to hear them explain the case for the urgency of this war, so much urgency that the Bush cabal can't keep their testosterone levels under rein.

The lack of this discussion is unforgivable in the context of this so-called piece of journalism.

Jon Prestage can be reached at: Jpprestage @ yahoo.com