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Barry Yourgrau Headshot

Cheney's Snarl

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In an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun today, Lawrence Wilkerson, Sec. Powell's former chief of staff, asks the important question: "Is U.S. being transformed into a radical republic?"

He gets the tense wrong; but his answer is correct. His answer is yes.

However, his catalogue of extremisms and radicalisms (so many Neo-Con inspired) makes a glaring omission:

Namely, that we now have a government that operates by systematic lying.

Call it spin, call it selective use of whatever intelligence.

Call it by its true name: propaganda.

As Paul Krugman has been pointing out since Bush opened his mouth back debating Gore, there is practically zero information from George W or his administration that can be relied on as factual. Does any exist?

Can you imagine if Bush or Cheney were, say, your doctor? Can you image what kind of informed opinion you'd receive? The kind of medical care based on that opinion?

Everything with this Presidential seal is spin or fabrication or distortion. Yes, all governments lie. But this government does it on a scale that is radical and then some.

Whatever this is, it ain't good old-fashioned democracy.

Recognition of this propaganda angle is entirely missing from Francis Fukuyama's disavowal of his Neo-Con cohorts. Any critique of Bush's conduct of preemptive/preventive war is deficient if it does not acknowledge that this government waged a bogus preventive/preemptive war.

Not just an illegal "preemptive/preventative" war. A bogus one. In good part to provide propaganda resources for the President's use in domestic politics.

No, it ain't good old democracy.

Furthermore, as scholar Susan Douglas points out astutely: "One of the deep consequences of the relentless Bush propaganda is that millions of people now struggle daily to figure out what actually are facts and what is spin. In this environment, everything is spin, and laws and facts are cast as debatable, mere opinions. Everything is partisan, everything "framed."'

In other words, a corruption of a sense of public reality, really.

Jeez Louise.

Historian RJB Bosworth writes in his exhaustive new study, Mussolini's Italy: "The Fascist dictatorship is often best understood as a 'propaganda state', where nothing was what is was said to be..."

Am I shouting "fascism"? Do I have to? Isn't "radical" and "not good ole democracy" enough?

Dick Cheney, that 5-star propagandist, has a little mannerism he likes to throw into his pronouncements: count the times he'll introduce a whopper or a whopper-cum-slander with the oh so modest little qualifier: "If you will." A nice little rhetorical touch of diffidence, as if he was being Mr. Reasonable himself. And not some mendacious monstrosity sprung from the frames of Dr. Strangelove.

But that fixed droopy snarl of Cheney's betrays him. Malcolm Gladwell in Blink talks of how everyone gives facial or physical clues of what they're really feeling, despite their words. These clues might last a split second, but we do see them; most of us just choose to ignore them.

But how can you ignore what's plastered half the time on Dick Cheney's face?