Bush's "sober" speech

Crooks & Liars describes Bush's latest speech as “sober”and applauds his tone of seriousness. Others have noted the phraseology:

That is an important question, and the answer depends on your view of the war on terror. If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone.


Some look at the challenges in Iraq, and conclude that the war is lost, and not worth another dime or another day. I don't believe that. Our military commanders do not believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear the burden and make the sacrifice, do not believe that America has lost. And not even the terrorists believe it. We know from their own communications that they feel a tightening noose - and fear the rise of a democratic Iraq.


Defeatism may have its partisan uses, but it is not justified by the facts. For every scene of destruction in Iraq, there are more scenes of rebuilding and hope. For every life lost, there are countless more lives reclaimed. And for every terrorist working to stop freedom in Iraq, there are many more Iraqis and Americans working to defeat them. My fellow citizens: Not only can we win the war in Iraq - we are winning the war in Iraq.


I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq: I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt. Yet now there are only two options before our country - victory or defeat. And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party, because the security of our people is in the balance. I don't expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom.

So, to translate all of this earnest speechmaking:

There are two sides to the argument: Victory, which I, the President, am representing and Defeat, which my political opponents represent. I'm the optimist who looks forward to each new day as a challenge to excel in an attitude of buoyant optimism. My opponents look forward to a half-empty glass of defeat and gloom and doom and despair and pessimism and hopelessness.

The phrase: "I know how deeply it is felt." makes it clear that the opponents of the brave and mighty President are reacting entirely from emotion, that there is no reasoning at work here, no common set of facts that we can all refer to or common "metrics" (Rumsfeld's term) with which to reach an agreement on how the war is going. As from when Bush first set about selling the war to Americans in the first place, everything depends on the American citizen simply taking Bush's word for everything. Bush speaks with great apparent authority about the goals and objectives of the "terrorists", but there's no indication of where any of this information comes from. Presumably, it all comes from intelligence reports, perhaps even from interrogations. As has been exhaustively proven, the intel that the President gets is quite different from what everybody else gets.

He speaks with great apparent authority on what American "military commanders" "Our troops in the field" and "the terrorists" all feel and how they assess the situation, but he, as the military Commander-in-Chief and as the one who gets the intelligence reports, is speaking on behalf of all of these people. No one can independently demand that the troops and commanders speak honestly in possible contradiction to what the C-in-C wants them to say. No one has press contacts among the insurgents. None of these on-the-scene personnel have a voice that can be independently verified.

What exactly constitutes "victory"? Hard to say, beyond the assertion that only the President is for it while everybody else is against it. Victory is defined in vague, maximalist terms, "freedom", etc. Our President is a very clever propagandist, or at least he has very clever people working for him. He does not believe in any sort of democracy, as is shown by the NSA being ordered to spy on American citizens in complete contravention to long-established rules and procedures.

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