Friday, March 07, 2003

The Calvinball Administration

Great post from the Better Rhetor:

Bait and Switch:
The Rhetoric of Make Believe

This is clever. Faced with the reality that the majority of Americans oppose war without U.N. support, that millions of people are marching for peace worldwide, that Turkey cannot be bribed, that the Vatican is calling for peace, and that governments around the world oppose U.S. military action, the Bush people have decided to declare victory and go home.

It’s a bait and switch. Rather than continuing to argue for the merits of their position—an argument they have concluded they cannot win—they now want to shift the terms of the debate. They don’t want to talk anymore, in other words, about whether we should invade Iraq. We are supposed to accept the fiction that this has been already settled, and we are now in the "next phase" of discussing what to do in post-war Iraq. That way they can shift the discussion, aided by our feckless media, away from their losing hand and onto another topic—one that presumes the Bushies won the original debate.

We saw the same strategy during the election debacle in Florida. As the debate was raging in the courts and on the streets, Karl Rove and Karen Hughes went about staging a series of events designed to create the perception that the issue had already been settled and that Bush had already won. And so there was a "transition team" created, leaks about who would be the next secretary of state, photo-ops designed to make Bush look "presidential." (He looked like a deer in the headlights, but that’s another issue.)

There's more; it's razor-sharp.

I'd only add one point: This strategy was first trotted out by Nixon, who thought for awhile that if we just declared victory in Vietnam we could pack up our bags and go home.

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