I haven't been blogging about US events at all, because I don't feel part of them anymore.

I didn't even mention the Alito nomination, as I fully expected him to be confirmed. Honestly, I don't know if I even would have fought that battle if I were still in New York. I know how that sounds to all the activists who were trying to block his appointment. I'm not proud of it. This isn't "I told you so", by any means. It's the sad resignation that made me want to leave the country. It's a feeling of hopelessness.

I'm still on a few activist email lists (although not many), and I saw there were several awareness and fundraising drives pegged to last night's State of the Union. I never watched a W SOTU when I lived in the US, so I certainly wasn't going to watch one now. That's a measure of attention and respect I won't give that lying scum. I can read about it the next day, and don't we already know what he's going to say?

David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation, has a good analysis, as always.
Simple works.

For George W. Bush, at least. In this year's State of the Union address, Bush led with his weakness--the Iraq war--and stuck to the un-nuanced and bold (if misleading) assertions he has used to justify the war and to argue for staying the course, his course.

After speaking of the death of Coretta Scott King (in which he endorsed the notion of heaven by speaking of her "reunion" with her husband), calling for preserving a "civil tone" in the "tough debates" of Washington (this from the man who during the 2002 campaign claimed the Democrats "were not interested in the security of the American people"), and referring to September 11 (suggesting that it was the lack of democracy in Afghanistan that brought "murder and destruction to our country"), Bush launched into his standard comic-book defense of the war on Iraq. To protect America, he explained, the United States must fight for freedom and democracy in Iraq and elsewhere. (WMDs in Iraq? Whoever said anything about WMDs in Iraq?) "We do not forget," Bush said, the people who live in undemocratic "Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Iran." He did not include China in this list. And in Iraq, he continued, "terrorists like bin Laden...aim to seize power" and use Iraq as a "safe have to launch attacks against America and the world." He added, "A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison....put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country."

This is--to be polite--an absurd analysis.
Corn believes that very little the Resident can say about Iraq matters anymore. I agree.
Bush does this sort of speechifying well. The sentiments and arguments are stark--easy to convey. But his defense of Iraq was nothing new. It's hard to imagine this rhetoric having much, if any, impact on public attitudes here or abroad. After nearly three years of war in Iraq, Bush's words matter little. The mess there will remain once the speech is done.

In his 2002 and 2003 State of the Union speeches, Bush telegraphed the invasion of Iraq. This time, even as he promoted a global crusade for democracy, he was less bellicose. (There's nothing like having an overextended and stretched-to-its-max military to moderate tough talk.) On Iran, Bush and his speechwriters (who went through 30 drafts of this not-so-monumental speech) showed they can learn from past mistakes. Unlike the 2003 State of the Union address--in which Bush presented the unconfirmed charge that Iraq had been uranium-shopping in Africa--Bush this time was more circumspect in decrying a foe. He said that the "Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions"--"ambitions" being a somewhat vague term. And he stayed clear of any details. He also told Iranians, "We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom." Could that be read as a pledge that he will not use military force to export freedom to Iran? (I hope a reporter asks Scott McClellan about this.)
Read Corn's story here.


Charlie Anonymous said...

That "Civil Tone" is coming from a guy who just beat the ever lovin' shit out of us.
W. is our nation's abusive spouse. He'll knock us senseless but then he wants us to make nice about it.

Wrye said...

As Jon Stewart says, he only hitss you cause he loves you

laura k said...

I've helped more than one person escape from an abusive spouse. If only I could help the US get a divorce.

Crabbi said...

If only. Actually, I'd prefer an annulment.

The Acid Queen said...

I'm waiting for the day that guys like Jon Stewart are arrested for lampooning the government.

In the interests of "national security", of course.

The Acid Queen said...

(and for those who haven't spotted it yet, I'm being sarcastic. I loathe W.)

laura k said...

But if they let Jon Stewart et al do their thing, they can point to them to supposedly prove how "free" the US is. "Try doing that in [insert name of current demonized country here]!"

M@ said...

Did anyone catch Kurt Vonnegut's interview on the CBC yesterday morning (replayed at 8 pm)? Anna-Maria Tremonti said "but at least in the USA there is still dissent", and Vonnegut replied "that just means that dissent is meaningless."

I'm no big fan of Vonnegut -- I like his books, but he's not a huge favourite or anything -- but he was right on the money in this interview. You can download it and listen to it on the CBC site. It's in the third segment.

laura k said...

Anna-Maria Tremonti said "but at least in the USA there is still dissent", and Vonnegut replied "that just means that dissent is meaningless."

That is a terrible, sobering, chilling, depressing and true statement.

Vonnegut is a genius in my book. Thanks for the link, I'm going to listen.

M@ said...

Yeah, that one comment sure snapped a lot of things into focus for me. Hope you enjoyed the interview. Tremonti is definitely a good interviewer -- usually...