Tuesday, May 22, 2007

On Gary Kamiya's "Why Bush Hasn't Been Impeached"

Gary Kamiya recently posted a piece at Salon.com attempting to explain why Bush hasn't yet been impeached. I'm glad that someone in major media is addressing this question. But while Kamiya makes a few good points in his piece, his overall analysis is incorrect. He attributes the underlying problem to a kind of mass psychological problem - an alleged American culture accepting of spin as equivalent to the truth. (See an earlier posting of mine on this blog for a discussion of this question in more depth: "On the Relationship Between Media/Political Leaders and the Public." See, also, a talk I gave in March '07: "Why Isn't There More Outrage?")

Kamiya cites, for example, Lindorff and Olshansky's quote of Sen. Lowell Weicker: "'Bush obviously lied to the country and the Congress about the war, but we have a system of elections in this country. Everyone knew about the lying before the 2004 elections, and they didn't do anything about it... Bush got elected. The horse is out of the barn now.'"

One of the problems with this analysis is that the majority of Americans didn't vote for Bush in 2004 (or 2000 for that matter!). The election was stolen. As I wrote at the start of Chapter 2 of Impeach the President:

"In order to believe that George Bush won the November 2, 2004 presidential election, you must also believe each and every one of the following [19] extremely improbable or outright impossible things.

1) New voter registrations in the lead up to the election hit record levels, with Democrats swamping Republicans in voter registrations (outstripping them by a factor of 5:1 in Florida and by 6:1 and better in Ohio), but despite this Bush still somehow won.

2) Pre-election day momentum carried through on Election Day with a record turnout and a highly energized and motivated electorate, but for the first time in history a large turnout favored the GOP instead of the Democrats.

3) CNN reported at 9 p.m. EST on election evening that Kerry was leading by 3 points in the national exit polls based on well over 13,000 respondents. Several hours later at 1:36 a.m. CNN reported that the exit polls, now based on a few hundred more—13,531 respondents—were showing Bush leading by 2 points, a 5-point swing. In other words, a swing of 5 percentage points from a tiny increase in the number of respondents somehow occurred despite being mathematically impossible.

4) Early-day voters picked up by initial exit polls (showing Kerry rolling to a 5 million-vote landslide win) apparently reflected GOP supporters waiting to vote until very late in the day, even though there was a complete lack of evidence of any late GOP surge to observers on the ground. This was, moreover, contrary to historic patterns of GOP supporters voting early.

5) Bush loses big to Kerry nationally among the only groups from which Bush could legitimately fashion a win: first-time voters, lapsed voters (those who didn’t vote in 2000), and undecideds. In addition, Bush loses people who voted for him in the cliffhanger 2000 election. Like Athena springing full-grown from Zeus’ brow, however, Bush is nonetheless credited ex nihilo with a 3.4 million-vote surplus in the official tally...."

Here is what I just posted at Salon.com:

Wrong Analogy

A better analogy than a bad marraige would be an evil stepfather. It's much, much harder to get rid of a bad stepfather than a lousy husband.

Kamiya correctly notes that the main reason Bush hasn't been impeached is because of the Democrats, and he also correctly notes that the establishment media have treated "impeachment talk as if it were the unseemly rantings of half-crazed hordes." But then he attributes media's stance to BUYING into the paradigm that Kamiya spends most of his article articulating - "our acceptance of the universality of spin."

This is where his analysis goes very wrong. He fails to distinguish between those who are responsible for spinning the truth (the White House, the right-wing, mainstream media, and the rest of the political leadership) and those who are the recipients of that spin (the public). See this for more.

When Kamiya cites, for example, the senior WH spokesman who told Ron Suskind that the WH was a proud member of the "faith-based community" he treats this as a statement about the whole American psyche. In fact the WH spokesman was referring to the WH alone and was DERIDING Suskind and others for being members of the "reality-based community." Similarly, when Kamiya seeks to support his contention that 9/11 created a "John Wayne" moment among all Americans, he cites Kissinger and Friedman, neither of whom can be said to be representative of the American public as a whole.

The American public HAD TO BE LIED TO in order to justify our illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. There's no way anyone would have gone along with it absent those lies. The notion that Saddham was responsible for 9/11 isn't something that emerged somehow from the public. The people were not overall engaging in mass, self-deception.

It is not the American people who are strangely disconnected. A majority for some time have been saying they support impeachment (e.g., the 10/06 Newsweek poll showing 51% wanting impeachment). Indeed, they voted powerfully against the war in 11/06 and before that a majority voted against Bush/Cheney in 11/04 (except that the election was stolen AGAIN - see my analysis of this in Chap. 2 of "Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney," ed. by Dennis Loo and Peter Phillips).

The problem is that the people cannot act to change public policy or accomplish impeachment without political leadership advancing their sentiments. The media, by treating impeachment as verboten, and the Democratic Party, in doing the same, have effectively blocked what the majority of Americans want - the impeachment and conviction of Bush and Cheney. If the NY Times or John Kerry were to come out for impeachment tomorrow, would anybody be wondering why the American people have allowed these reactionaries in the WH to remain? Of course not, because the outpouring of public sentiment in support of impeachment would be immense.

What Kamiya treats as a mass, psychological state of mind among Americans is more properly seen as a fraud perpetrated upon the public by opinion-leaders. David Brock in "The Republican Noise Machine" traces the historical development of this egregious state of affairs. We further analyze this phenomenon in "Impeach the President" - our authors including Howard Zinn, Mark Crispin Miller, Greg Palast and many others.

As I wrote in the Preface to ITP:

"The central problem here is that truth and facts have been barricaded off from reaching most of the American people. If Americans truly knew exactly what was going on in their names, they would mass outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, scale the gates, haul these perpetrators out of the White House by their shirt collars and put them on trial immediately for crimes against humanity. This has yet to happen because the right wing has been resoundingly successful in the plans it laid beginning in the early 1970s to dramatically alter the political landscape. Through the very deep pockets of people like Rupert Murdoch, Adolph Coors and the 'Four Sisters,' they have invested tens of billions of dollars in establishing their own media empire such as Fox News and Clear Channel, their own think tanks, publishing houses, their heavy subsidy and cultivation of right wing scholars and writers, and so on. From these pulpits they have bullied, lied and twisted. Their media empire’s impact cannot be overestimated. They have cowed the Democratic Party and the mainstream media. Like the shadow cast by the immense alien ship in the movie Independence Day, Bush/Cheney and the radical right have generated a black cloud over this country. We wrote this book to help to dispel this.

"These times call for nothing less than that the people take extraordinary measures to repudiate these 'leaders.' An unprecedented mass popular upheaval is what must occur."

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