Every American must always be ready to do his patriotic duty at any time, and I've just done mine. Via telescreen, I've just watched George the Younger and Slower wrap his trembling tongue around some speechwriter's words for the benefit of the national teevee audience, as well as a detachment of The Troops in North Carolina. The Troops appeared to be a satisfied bunch. Not one Troop booed, catcalled, or made so much as a rude gesture -- at least, not one that the cameras showed me. All of them sat stolidly, and some chewed their gum. I'm guessing that El Presidente will be doing most of his "public" speaking in Imperial garrisons in the future, where he's not only physically safe, but also safe from ridicule, which tends to be a tyrant's greater fear.
"We're fighting against men with black hatred, armed with lethal weapons, who are capable of any atrocity." Oddly enough, I think that's true. And telling the truth is a fine thing; but it's important to tell the whole truth: both halves. And here's the other half: we are "men with black hatred, armed with lethal weapons, who are capable of any atrocity." True, we usually don't take up a knife and hack someone's head off, up close and personal, for the camera; instead, we flip high explosives into densely-populated cities. I know this sounds as if I'm suggesting a "moral equivalence" between Them and Us, but of course I'm not. Iraq didn't invade the United States. The United States did invade Iraq; indeed, the United States seems to have fallen into the habit of invading Iraq once every dozen years or so. There's your moral asymmetry. We're the aggressor. They're wrong, and we're even wronger.
I won't belabor Chimpy's chittering about Freedom and Terror and so forth. Obviously, he didn't believe what he was mouthing, and probably understood little enough of it. Most of the audience, I think, takes for granted that the presidential-speech boilerplate is a purely obligatory, pro forma exercise without any real meaning. By the fast-diving standards that we apply to our Dear Leaders, tonight's speech was a success; Our Glorious President managed to read "his" speech from end to end without inventing a single new word, such as disassembling.
As I sit here rambling, I am beginning to feel like a carping ingrate. What could I reasonably have expected of Bush? I like to think he might have said, "I've egregiously ill-served our country. At this moment, American military forces are retreating from Iraq as fast as possible. They'll all be home by this time next week. As the only possible decent response to the lives I've taken, the property I've destroyed, and the mega-bales of your money that I've squandered, I'm resigning my office effective tomorrow morning, and I'm getting out of your faces right now ... good night, and may God forgive most of you for electing me." Obviously, that's outside the parameters of possibility; his handlers would be unamused. He could hardly have explained clearly why American blood and treasure must be expended to pour the blessings of liberal democracy down the unreceptive throats of Araby, since no such valid explanation exists; it would be like trying to explain clearly why red is green. Or he could do what he did: support the troops rising tide of freedom tough times stay the course we're fighting evil nine-eleven wartime training blah blah blah.
I've described our current president as "stupid" many times. Tonight, as I watched him excrete his speech, it occurred to me that he may be smarter than I've given him credit for. Did you notice that smirky little half-smile that played over his lips, almost all the time he was speaking? I've seen people do that before. They tend to do that when they're compelled to say things to an audience that they know aren't true, and that they suspect the audience sees through, too. It's an exercise called "trying to keep a straight face."
We Americans import vast amounts of oil, cheap consumer goods, Mexicans, and Asian bankers' money; we export bullets and bombs (at high speed), reality teevee, IOUs, imperial pronouncements, and threats. This does not seem to me like a situation that can continue indefinitely. Everyone knows that water runs downhill. What a good thing it is for us that it will never, ever, ever reach the bottom!