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post #1 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 10:49 AM Thread Starter
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George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?


The Propaganda President
George W. Bush does his best Kim Jong-il.
By Jack Shafer

From: http://www.slate.com/id/2113052/



If "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il of North Korea and George W. Bush ever meet, I suspect the two will bond like long-lost brothers. Both men are first-born sons of powerful fathers who partied like adolescents well into their adult lives, after which they submitted to their dynastic fates as heads of state.

Both avoid critical thought, preferring to surround themselves with yes men and apply propagandistic slogans to the onrushing complexities of justice, culture, economics, and foreign policy. Bush churns out buzz phrases with the best of them: He believes in "compassionate conservatism" and fancies himself part of the "army of compassion." He's the "reformer with results" who embraces the "culture of life." He shouts his paeans to "liberty" and "freedom" (a combined 27 times during last night's State of the Union speech, according to today's Washington Post) while reducing civil liberties at home.

But slogan-chanting is only one small part of an effective propaganda operation. Successful propagandists must also discourage dissenters who might disrupt the party line. And the two best ways to keep people stupid and nodding is by shutting down the information flow and by stiffing the press. At these chores, Bush excels.

The administration's idea of a conversation is a long, platitudinous presidential monologue. Every administration has warred with reporters, but Bush's is the first to challenge the very legitimacy of the press. Inside the White House briefing room, press secretary Scott McClellan controls the topics discussed by playing rope-a-dope with reporters, absorbing and ignoring the tough questions until they give up. When Vice President Dick Cheney didn't like the campaign coverage he read in the New York Times, the Times reporter was tossed off the plane. In the February/March American Journalism Review, Los Angeles Times reporter Edwin Chen complains that his newspaper has yet to score an interview with President Bush. "This White House doesn't need California, has no use for California politically," says Chen, "so we carry no clout."

Bush regards the press as a filter—an unnecessary one. "I'm mindful of the filter through which some news travels, and somehow you just got to go over the heads of the filter and speak directly to the people," he said in October 2003 during a media push in which he gave interviews to five regional broadcasters about his Iraq policy because he disliked the national news coverage.

In fact, as Michael Kinsley wrote in Slate a year and a half ago, it's not that Bush favors unfiltered news; he wants everybody to receive it through his filter. In recent weeks we've learned what extremes he'll go to in working around reporters. The Armstrong Williams case, which may be a harbinger of a greater secret propaganda campaign by the administration, further illustrates Bush's distrust not only of the press, but of the public. The administration's Department of Education paid the conservative commentator $240,000 through the cut-out of a public relations firm to promote its No Child Left Behind law on his broadcasts, as USA Today reported on Jan. 17. The administration has also gotten busted for camouflaging video press releases as legitimate news segments to promote its Medicare drug plan and warn about the dangers of illicit drugs.

Persuasion, Aristotle taught, depends on the speaker's skill at portraying himself as a trustworthy source. With his "aw, shucks" demeanor and his maudlin speechifying, the former Andover cheerleader knows how to stage a "drama" and tap the audience's emotions. He and his co-propagandists arranged one such emotionally manipulative "gallery play" during the State of the Union. Rather than explain his Iraq policy, he had the mother and father of a slain U.S. Marine seated behind an Iraqi voter in Laura Bush's box. When the president paid tribute to the parents in his speech, the Iraqi turned and quite predictably embraced the sobbing mother.

Though he opposes filtration, Bush never hesitates to exploit national security as a tool to suppress and distort information. Steve Aftergood, head of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, describes the Bush administration's style as governance by fear. In the name of national security, Bush has extended the authority to classify information to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture, and the EPA, he says. After Sept. 11, his attorney general issued a new directive making it easier for agencies to reject Freedom of Information Act requests. Aftergood also criticizes the secrecy of the Bush administration's task forces on energy, its refusal to comply with congressional requests for information, and its ambiguity on the torture question.

"They've propagated the idea that we're all at risk of violent death at any moment and at any place, and we must all do everything we can to secure our borders, ports, parks, and miniature golf courses," Aftergood says.

Reporter Ron Suskind tagged the born-again Bush as the creator of the "faith-based presidency" in a New York Times Magazine feature last October. Bush's "with-us-or-against-us model … has been enormously effective at, among other things, keeping the workings and temperament of the Bush White House a kind of state secret," Suskind writes. Only the president is authorized to speak for the president. Sing the same song, or none at all, is the administration's law: Doubters and people with competing facts are shunned and ostracized for their disloyalty. Because the maximum leader trusts his instincts, we're supposed to trust them, too, Suskind explains. We know best is the Bush administration's unstated premise. You mustn't question our higher motives.

Two years ago, an unnamed Bush aide told Suskind, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

George Wallace invented the politics of running for president by running against Washington. Richard Nixon, who perfected the technique and handed it forward to Ronald Reagan and the Bushes, pioneered the politics of running for president by running against the press. He and Vice President Spiro Agnew dished the press more savagely than Bush has. But battling the press ultimately backfired on Nixon, and Reagan found charm and manipulation worked better than overt hostility. "[James A. Baker III] decided early on that there were only two constituencies that mattered—the national media and Congress—and he devoted a great deal of time and energy to wooing the media," Reagan administration veteran Ed Rollins told Michael Kelly in an October 1993 New York Times Magazine feature.

It's been George II's good fortune to launch his campaign against the nattering nabobs of the media at a time when the Jayson Blair/Jack Kelley/60 Minutes Wednesday scandals have turned journalists into inviting targets of scorn. At this point, the average citizen thinks the average Washington reporter is a full-of-himself jackass. The Bush administration probably figures that if the press swings at it and connects, 1) the blow won't hurt and 2) over-aggressive reporting will only play to the White House's favor.

The upside of the information lock out, of course, is that few reporters find themselves sweetly spun by such head-patters as Baker. The Bush administration may be doing the press a small favor by snubbing it, freeing reporters to abandon the scripted palaver of the White House and dig elsewhere for stories.

But what of George W. Bush? How does he gain by fortressing himself and his administration away from critics, skeptics, and questioners? How, exactly, does it benefit him to follow the philosophy of Kim Jong-il?



Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #2 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 12:54 PM
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RE: George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?

I think this writer is giving W. and Co. a little too much credit. They are very conservative, very morality based, and very paranoid from all that I have read. They actually believe the shit they say from most accounts. The ones that do not simply agree as to forward their career advancement.
They walk a very tight rope. They are like the homosexual man with a wife and kids who keeps everyone in the dark, but more and more finds himself slipping out for a night cap. You always wonder when the fine line will be passed and the house of cards come tumbling down, ruining the double life he has worked so hard to maintain.
If the democrats were a focused party then this blatant hypocrisy could be brought to light rather easily, but this looks unlikely right now. So the two faced president will endure until his extremist and self destructive ways can be exposed, or he simply falls because of his own folly.
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post #3 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 01:15 PM
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RE: George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?

The tactics of this administration remind me of a magazine article I read many years ago. The article discussed the tactics of a well-known drug company, Ciba. It seemed that Ciba had created a new drug. The drug didn't seem to be applicable in regard to the treatment of any known disease/condition, yet the marketing geniuses at Ciba were certain the drug was marketable and could reap huge profits. Their answer was to "create" a new disease, for which this drug was the cure. Their marketing efforts were not in vain, and Ritalin was a huge commercial success. The title of the article was "The Public Will Swallow Anything".

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #4 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 01:50 PM
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RE: George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?

so.....everyone who doesn't see it the way ya'll do is stupid, gullible or nefarious? What happened to tolerance? We may be stupid but we were obviously born that way. To speak of the helplessly stupid in a derrogatory fashion is insensitive......intolerant. Perhaps there needs to be a program on PBS teaching the virtues of the stupid. We are all of the brotherhood of man. Why denegrate us? Surely ya'll are not afraid that we are out to recruit your young......[:D]


For the record, I'm not really stupid.......not that there's anything wrong with that...

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post #5 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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RE: George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?

If you are addressing that to the article that started this thread, I don't see where it refers to anyone as stupid. I think the article does a good job of pointing out what I have been asserting for months - we put an administration in power that understands how information is successfully distributed in a totalitarian society, and have put those tenets to work in our society to great success. We have a Congress that investigates nothing, and a President who says nothing except for broad platitudes. Instead of elections, we have rituals where we merely consent to the current ruling class. We have become a nation of unquestioning sheep. Next we are going to get scientific ignorance in our schools, and meanwhile political ignorance will continue it's march, as our spirtual ignorance continues to allow us to slaughter innocent people as we call it "patriotism". This is a democracy that is failing.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #6 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 08:03 PM
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RE: George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?

Quote:
kvining - 2/7/2005 5:25 PM

If you are addressing that to the article that started this thread, I don't see where it refers to anyone as stupid. I think the article does a good job of pointing out what I have been asserting for months - we put an administration in power that understands how information is successfully distributed in a totalitarian society, and have put those tenets to work in our society to great success. We have a Congress that investigates nothing, and a President who says nothing except for broad platitudes. Instead of elections, we have rituals where we merely consent to the current ruling class. We have become a nation of unquestioning sheep. Next we are going to get scientific ignorance in our schools, and meanwhile political ignorance will continue it's march, as our spirtual ignorance continues to allow us to slaughter innocent people as we call it "patriotism". This is a democracy that is failing.
No K, I was toying with the apparent attitude of some of the subsequent posts while using a device which could be easily identified with tolerance/intolerance. just having some fun really.

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post #7 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 08:12 PM
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RE: George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?

"No K, I was toying with the apparent attitude of some of the subsequent posts while using a device which could be easily identified with tolerance/intolerance. just having some fun really." he said, as he reached for his Ritalin. [8D]

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #8 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 08:40 PM
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RE: George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?

Quote:
GermanStar - 2/7/2005 10:12 PM

"No K, I was toying with the apparent attitude of some of the subsequent posts while using a device which could be easily identified with tolerance/intolerance. just having some fun really." he said, as he reached for his Ritalin. [8D]
does'nt ritalin, when taken by one who is not truely ADHD, give a buzz?

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post #9 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 08:46 PM
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RE: George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?

Ritalin provides a buzz to all. The effect is rather like that of amphetamines, though somewhat more subtle. Amphetamines bring focus and clarity of thought, hence the effect on these poor slobs tagged with this so-called "deficiency".

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #10 of 90 (permalink) Old 02-07-2005, 09:37 PM
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RE: George Bush - The "Propaganda President" ?

Quote:
GermanStar - 2/7/2005 10:46 PM

Ritalin provides a buzz to all. The effect is rather like that of amphetamines, though somewhat more subtle. Amphetamines bring focus and clarity of thought, hence the effect on these poor slobs tagged with this so-called "deficiency".
in that case, may I refer you to my latest post on KV's lying about SS thread....[:D]

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