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Saturday, January 24, 2004
The power of belief
This morning on Fox & Friends -the #1 cable “this would be even more entertaining if nobody took it seriously" show- one of the hosts, the black guy, labeled Howard Dean’s much talked about words a “tirade.” The hosts also talked about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
Interestingly the question of the day was, "No WMD Found: Does it Matter?"
There was no doubt that a mildly amusing performance from Dean and the break-up of two insignificant movie stars mattered, but whether or not the prez lied or whether U.S. intelligence gathering and analysis could be broken apparently are matters that reasonable people can disagree about whether or not they are important.
Now since "matter" was never defined, perhaps there is room to have an actual discussion. If by "matter" the mean "will the Bush Administration not be able to get away with it," I would have to say it probably doesn't matter. Team Bush will probably most likely get away with it. (Of course one of my main problems with "debates" and "discussion" on cable news programming and on many blogs is that the issue of whether or not X is right or wrong usually gets mixed in with whether or not X is popular even though in most, but certainly not all, cases these issues are independent of one another.)
The general mood amongst callers was that it didn't matter. That's interesting because the weapons that had to be stopped a year ago now apparently are harmless despite Bush's indication that not all is known about them. In fact, maybe we didn't need to have that fun little war in order to stay safe.
I'm not sure exactly what prompted the question but it seems likely that it had something to do with David Kay quitting and an interview with Reuters where Kay responded to "What happened to the stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons that everyone expected to be there?" by saying "I don't think they existed."
Howard Dean's mannerisms and sound on Monday earned him much ridicule so it is interesting to not that a truly ridiculous statement received no such response from many in the blogosphere. In a January 21 piece for The Age Caroline Overington writes about meeting a man who lost a son, a soldier in the U.S. military, in Iraq:
"But I never thought it was about the weapons," my seat mate said. And, although I can't remember his exact words, he also said something like: "We have always stood up for freedom, in our own country, and for other people."Always? This person needs to look up some history. Sorry but losing your son, or anything else, does not give you the monopoly on truth. (Would the father of an Iraqi soldier who died fighting the U.S. automatically be correct if they said, "my son was right to fight against the Americans"? Of course not!)
Overington's piece has the title of "They like Bush, and they are not stupid," even though she shows that at least some of Bush's supporters are in fact stupid.
What explains the difference in reactions?
I suspect it is a matter of what people want to believe. Those who want to believe America and Team Bush are absolutely correct in the "war on terror" will find reasons to think that, however comical or illogical. Those who want to believe Dean should receive no support will find reasons for to believe that. And, yes, those of us who oppose the "war on terror" will find reasons to support that opinion.
Is there a difference. I believe that I, for one, am able to acknowledge that contradictory aspects of the "war on terror" that I oppose, which is to say I do not see as all bad or as having no positive impacts.
But I'm sure others don't see it that way.
On a related note, is it possible that the reason just about nobody of any standing or with any audience has challenged Bush's use of "the terrorists" is because the term gained popular currency after the Bush Administration used it the days and weeks after "September 11," a time when serious criticism was something that most people in such positions were not willing to do for fear of offending the public?
If so, this perfectly illustrates the dangers of blind patriotism. It may feel good at the moment but it can lead to some terrible results.