Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

You should look it up, Mr. Alterman. August 7, 2001, is when Condi Rice showed Bush the infamous memo. The statement you referred to he made to a CIA agent who came down a few weeks later to reinforce the seriousness of the situation.

Gregory F. Bachelis

West Bloomfield, MI

Mar 4 2009 - 3:05pm

Web Letter

"Bush kept us safe" may be a meaningless mantra, but it is not purposeless. It works, as much of Republican propaganda works, by insinuation. What it implies, but does not say, is much more important than what it does say.

The phrase "kept us safe" implies that we have been in danger, and that President Bush has been our shield. Repeating the phrase perpetuates the feeling that we are in danger. Bush was not really much of a uniter during much of his presidency, but he came closest to uniting US-Americans when they were most afraid. The on-message talking heads of the political right know instinctively that their mission is to maintain this fear, though only by insinuation. They won't tip their hand by saying literally what they want us to believe, which is "We're afraid and we want our president to protect us by waging war against all those we fear, whether they objectively threaten us or not."

Of course, when viewed objectively, we haven't made ourselves measurably safer by waging pre-emptive wars. More likely, we have made ourselves less safe by antagonizing millions of people worldwide who were formerly favorably disposed toward us. But this doesn't concern the fear-mongers, provided that they can make their audience fear something even more than the bad situation that our bad policies have created. That something is the Unseen Enemy, which non-thinkers fear even more if they do not know what it is.

These same non-thinkers can flatter themselves that their Big Brother, the strong and mighty Bush, has kept them safe, and that their enduring faith in their president has given him the power to do it. In this way, the mantra instantly cures the fear that it creates by sowing self-congratulation in its wake.

The propagandists of the right may not have any idea what they're doing, but they know exactly what they're saying.

Eric Paul Jacobsen

West Saint Paul, MN

Mar 3 2009 - 9:14am

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.