“Holding ha-aaaaaaannnnds...making all kinds of plans...”
A fortnight ago, I took the Bush administration and the Saudi government to task for their cushy, co-dependent relationship, and how that “relationship” has adversely affected what America calls “The War On Terror™”, while also severely damaging what little “moral authority” we had left in pressing for international human rights.
That “relationship”, based on America's crack-ho' addiction to oil (as a resource and as a corporate revenue generator) and the Saudis exploiting said addiction in their position as a main supplier of petro-crack has resulted in a blindered moral relativism on the U.S.'s part. We look the other way on the Saudi's retrograde excesses in return for continued, flutter-lidded, white-eyed suckling at the oil teat.
What set me off? Post September 11th, Bush cynically opted to put no pressure at all on the powers-that-be who run the country where 3/4 of the attack's hijackers hailed from—those same powers-that-be whose oil revenues finance the religio-piate Madrasas (schools) that often serve as anger-to-action incubators for many a frustrated young Muslim man. A need for oil for all those Hummers and Suburbans, and an equal lust for that same oil to reap refining profits from is a sad reality of how we choose to live—and it reflects itself in the choices our government makes. Ugly choices that manifest themselves in moral hypocrisy where we pushed for war with a non-aggressor Muslim country who not a single 9-11 hijacker hailed from. Hundreds of thousands killed, millions displaced, a civil war fomented by our stupidity in Iraq—whose people didn't do a Goddamned thing...and this government couldn't even talk loud to the Saudis about maybe fixing some of the eminently fixable shit they passive-aggressively promote that is a threat to us?
Yes...that bothered me in a big way.
But...you'd like to think that at some point in time...maybe by dint of the simple law of averages, some balance could creep into the mix when it comes to massaging foreign policy. You can borderline understand the blunt-force stupid of raw human nature in the single-minded “all-take/no-give” school of dealing with so-called mortal international enemies. It's not smart—but you can sort of see where it comes from. I have trouble grasping the flip side though—the “all-give/no-take” mindset when it comes to dealing with so-called allies.
The case of the young Saudi woman who was brutally gang-raped and found herself on the sentencing end of 200 lashes for apparently “asking for it” (actually 90 for the “crime”, the extra 110 for talking to the press) via the heinous sin of her daring to be with men other than a relative, is one such example of the “all-give/no-take” imbalance on America's part. There was of course, the typical “Damn those crazy Moo-slims! All of 'em!” spike of crazy in the 48 hours of news coverage it garnered. But again, there was little from our government beyond a glassy-eyed burp of “There, we've spoken on it, let's move on” from our flaxen, Presidential spokes-bot Dana Perino.
The administration let the whole thing slide as if it was slathered with a barrel-ful of low-grade crude.
However, it hit a dry spot yesterday when a reporter brought the story up at Bush's presser...and Bush's handling of it tells you everything you need to know about why we're as fucked as we are presently as a country. Diplomatically, public relations-wise, and as any sort of world arbiter of simple decency.
From the presser (Via First Draft):
HENRY: On another issue of credibility in the Mid East — At the Annapolis Summit you used your influence to get Saudi Arabia to the table but I wonder whether now you will use you influence to do something about the Saudi rape case that has gotten so much international attention? What goes through your mind when you hear about a 19 year old Saudi woman getting gang raped by seven men and basically a Saudi court blames the victim and sentences her to 200 lashes? You spoke to King Abdullah by telephone in the last couple of weeks. Did you press him on this case? If so what did you say and if not, are you giving him a pass?”
Let me jump in here for just one second. The raw transcript of this exchange doesn't give you the full story. You shoud see it. (via Crooks and Liars) When Bush was asked about this, he looked as if someone had slashed him across the gut and pulled some of his intestines out through the wound. He was stunned. Nearly in shock that not only had a reporter dared ask him such a pointed question, but also that he clearly had no clue of how to handle it via talking points. He stammered, stumbled, blinked and blinked and blinked, as if perhaps with mystical snapping shut of his eyes he could make the questioner disappear like some poor unfortunate who displeased Barbara Eden's “Jeannie”. Eventually I guess, whoever was at the console to send him messages via his top-of-the-back transmitter came up with something...but alas, not quiteenough. Back to the bullshit response...
BUSH: My first thoughts were these. What happens if this happened to my daughter? How would I react? And I would have been — I would have been very emotional, of course. I’d have been angry at those who committed the crime, and I would be angry at the state that didn’t support the victim, and our opinions were expressed by Dana Perino from the podium.
HENRY: Did you press King Abdullah about it personally?
BUSH: I talked to King Abdullah about the Middle eastern peace. I don’t remember if that subject came up.
HENRY: If it was that important to you why wouldn’t you at that level bring it directly up to King Abdullah?
BUSH: (Ed. note—Very testily now) There’s plenty of time. He knows our position loud and clear.
And he ran from follow-up on that punji-stick of a question like a scalded dog, howling all the way. This pusilanimous pisspot of a President. For someone who constantly talks of good and evil in the weighty tones of characters from Faust, it doesn't take very much to expose him as little more than a prompter reader when it comes to his depth of real concern with the ideas of fairness and justice. He fell back on a cheap, emotional stunt when challenged and when the reporter basically said, “Thanks for your little scene from 'The Searchers'—now tell us what the fuck you actually did!”, the little coward punted and ran for the sideline. His non-response was a dog-whistle to our international “friends” who don't believe in justice and equality—“We've got your back on that, G!” And it was an unwitting sub-sonic alert to those we are at odds with...
“Sit n' spin, Geneva!”
What do you expect when the world's supposed supa-ultra-mega-hulk-on-steroids-plus-god-and-the-core-of-the-fucking-atom-power not only looks the other way on, but practices torture? When we
There was an old “Pixie and Dixie” cartoon where the cat, Mr. Jinx stood off to the side laughing at a warring, destructive Pixie and Dixie laying waste to each other instead of battling him—the crafty instigator.
Jinxie chuckled his goofy chuckle and said “Hyenh! I love it when they do it to themselves. We're doing it to ourselves. Operating under a bent, ultimately lawless template and reaping the awful whirlwind from it.
In the end...I can't blame the Saudis one fucking bit for taking full advantage of our hypocrisy. That's human nature too.
“If the so-called moral arbiter is fucking up, and is beholden to me for something he needs, and won't press me to get right—why the hell should I tow the line?”
What was that phrase Robert Bork used? “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”? Sheeeee-it—this is a drunken stumble down a steep, icy hill. Maybe they'll have the crack-up at the bottom on YouTube or something. The “Jackass”-ery of civilization as we know it.
As an added treat, here's the question that torqued off the
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. I may want to apologize in advance because --
BUSH: Please do.
Q: I can't help but read your body language this morning, Mr. President. You seem somehow dispirited, somewhat dispirited.
BUSH: I think you need to apologize for advance -- (laughter.) This is like -- all of a sudden, it's like Psychology 101, you know? (Laughter.)
Q: A question related to that, sir, is, twice now, on Iran and Iraq, the facts have failed you on things that you've been outspoken on telling the American people. Senator Harry Reid is saying on the war spending issue that "the President is not leveling with the American people."
BUSH: On the war spending issue?
Q: Yes. Are you, in fact, troubled by --
BUSH: Why don't you clarify that for me?
Q: Well, are you --
BUSH: What aspect of it? That I don't think we ought to fund the troops?
Q: No, sir.
BUSH: I think we need to fund the troops. I submitted a supplemental last February. Anyway --
Q: My question, sir, is, are you feeling troubled about your standing here yesterday, about perhaps facing a credibility gap with the American people?
BUSH: No, I'm feeling pretty spirited, pretty good about life, and have made the decision to come before you so I can explain the NIE. And I have said Iran is dangerous, and the NIE doesn't do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world. Quite the contrary. I'm using this NIE as an opportunity to continue to rally our colleagues and allies.
Q: Do you think it --
BUSH: It makes it -- the NIE makes it clear that the strategy we have used in the past is effective.
And so, kind of Psychology 101 ain't working. It's just not working. I understand the issues, I clearly see the problems, and I'm going to use the NIE to continue to rally the international community for the sake of peace. Thank you very much.
Now when I finally saw this in its entirety, (hopefully the C-SPAN feed works) this segment played out like a sitcom segment with a fade to blackout. The questioner asks a testy, anxious Bush a question about his obvious discomfort at the podium with what seemed to be a bad day's going. He cited negative body language and tone.
Bush of course denied it—and then proceeded (you need to see the moment to truly get it) to grump, and snipe, then slouch and finger-shake, and finally yell and cut off any further questions with an angry stomp out.
A commenter in a previous thread said of the presser “GWB had an emperor sans clothing moment.”
It was that and more.
It was a “Law & Order three-minutes-of” moment too. That moment in the courtroom or interrogation room where the guilty defendant invariably snaps and exposes himself as exactly what Jack McCoy or Detective Goren just set him up as being.
But most embarrassingly, it was also a “Sexual Chocolate” moment.
Don't know what I mean by “Sexual Chocolate”? Come To America with me and all will be clear. And make sure to watch to the end, kids.