Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, for June 19,2008
Scott McClellan Nation
Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.
It was as if “What Me Worry” Alfred E. Newman had stepped off the cover of Mad Magazine and started spilling the beans about the publishers. But with Scott McClellan, former White House Press Secretary and loyal Bush fool, there was one little problem: There were already miles of shelves filled with miles of books, all filled with nothing but carefully researched and documented beans. So the only new revelation Scott had to offer was this: How was it humanly possible for anyone with an I.Q. larger than his shoe size to remain so clueless for so long?
True, the paycheck was nice and that can buy a lot of willful stupidity. And silence. As one wag noted, it’s easy for a man to not know something when his job depends on his not knowing it. And knowing that speaking out would make enemies of your friends can be an intimidating proposition. But whatever made Scott think these people were his friends? They were cronies and he was their useful, willing and then expendable tool, nothing more.
Of course, Scott was not alone in his Kool-Aid-Drinking myopic zeal. The entire Bush administration is remarkable for the sheer number of people who put personal good above the good of the nation. Not for nothing was Colin Powell the one chosen to go to the UN to present the dog and pony show designed to justify the Iraq war. He had always made sure his public credentials were burnished to a fine gleam, so he could be counted on to do nothing to harm his career. If thousands of soldiers had to die to keep that fine public reputation polished, so be it. From Army generals who kept their mouths shut until that pension check was safely in the mail to the Talking Points Republican Congress members who put maintaining their position and political power over the good of nation, to the spineless Democrats who failed to fulfill their oversight responsibilities, to a bought-and-paid-for corporate media willing the be, not watchdogs, but useful handmaids, it was a Scott McClellan government – fingers in the ears, humming a la-la-la-la plainsong, willfully blind, asking no questions.
In normal times, such a government and administration would have outraged a skeptical, informed and watching nation, and been booted out of office. But in this case, the United States had also turned into Scott McClellan Nation – the whole country became the piano player in the whorehouse, pretending to be ignorant of what was going on upstairs. La-la-la-la. The citizens were lied to, bamboozled, conned, spun, manipulated, and fleeced , not once, but again and again and each time they scrunched their eyes shut and returned the wolves to the sheep pens. Until the stench of incompetence and rot and war dead and wasted billions grew so huge they simply couldn’t ignore it any longer. But even then, instead of outrage, impeachment hearings and a full regime change with a demand to hold those responsible to account, they made sure there would be no accountability. Just a brief news cycle jabber about yet another tell-all book that will go on a shelf, unread, while those in charge covered their behinds and scampered for the door scot-free.
It’s too soon to tell whether Scott McClellan Nation has finally had the same epiphany that Scott McClellan the man did, minus the book contract. Or whether we are still a nation of sleepwalkers, easy marks for the same lies, offering all our wedge-issue, hot-buttons to be pushed once again, sheep returning to the shearing pens.
Whether the country has had that epiphany is critical since there are extremely dangerous and complicated times ahead. Global warming, volatile weather shifts promising more Katrinas that will require competent government assistance, the coming battles over scarce resources, famine-driven migrations that will further destabilize an already volatile planet, and economic and environmental hard times that will also offer unique opportunities only to those prepared to seize them. All of these are issues that can only be dealt with by an awake, aware, accurately informed and engaged nation of gimlet-eyed “Show-Me” Missourians, with one hard eye on the Constitution and the other watching the silverware.