Monday, December 19, 2005

Smooth Rhetoric: Trying to Sucker People in Faster than a Discount at Wal-mart

I watched President Bush’s speech last night and his press conference today. Got a cup of good rich coffee, a piece of recently made fudge and sat down. There was a part of me that didn’t want to watch as I had seen past speeches and, so, why should this one be different? He does tend to repeat himself. Repeat himself he did. But he also added some smooth talking points. First, he takes responsibility for getting us into Iraq. He also admits that no weapons of mass destruction were found. This speech worried me. It worried me because, all in all, it was a good speech . . . a smooth piece of rhetoric. His status-quo “stay the course” was there, but so was a touch of humanity, a sorrow. Why should this worry me? Isn’t that what I want? A touch of humanity on the face of my president. I am worried because he made things, and the actions he has sought and enacted, sound so reasonable--like he was a father who has no choice but to employ “tough love.” To continue with this “father image,” he was at first, in the past, stern and firm--the patriarch leading with a tight fist of force and certainty. Next, again like a father, after the punishment has been laid out and the emotions have been distilled, he rationalizes his decisions and actions with a touch of sorrow and “benevolence.” All of which, I fear, is an illusion—an illusion that can sucker people in faster than a discount at Wal-mart. The truth is that this change in tone does not change the realities of action. Today’s press conference was a bit difference. Here I saw more of the same old fellow we have come to know. He defended, yet again, his skewing of the law and “ease dropping” on Americans. The reason? A different type of enemy demands different tactics. We need to act quicker and faster to beat the enemy. However, as the Progress Report so aptly states, this rational is flawed and false:
FACT: BUSH PROGRAM DID NOT IMPROVE SPEED OF OBTAINING WARRANTS: Another claim made by members of the administration is that President Bush needed "to skirt the normal process of obtaining court-approved search warrants for the surveillance because it was too cumbersome for fast-paced counterterrorism investigations." This argument has several flaws. For one, the New York Times notes, "government officials are able to get an emergency warrant from the secret court within hours, sometimes minutes, if they can show an imminent threat." More importantly, Section 1805 of the FISA Act states that the government can begin a wiretap as soon as it determines a need and can wait up to 72 hours before obtaining a warrant. The Bush administration "did not seek to do that under the special program."
Especially ironic was Bush’s comment today while speaking on Iraq’s progress that “constitutions tend to bind societies.” If constitutions tend to bind societies then ignoring the constitution and constitutional law tends to divide societies. It is not that I am a “defeatist” or that I have given into “despair,” it is simply that I do not believe he has been candid with the American people (another claim he made early this afternoon). I am sorry Mr. President, my patience has run out.

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