February 23, 2008

Further evidence of Bush administration's pigheadedness.

The 8 years of Bush are an unmitigated disaster. This is fairly clear in certain areas: the mess in Iraq, Katrina, the wholesale disregard for all international norms etc. Bush era was equally destructive in less public arenas. The Bush people worked like viruses in several public institutions, eating their vitality away from inside and it would take plenty of determined effort to get rid of that virus. One recalls the rampant cronyism in all departments, only one of whose manifestations was the ineptness of FEMA. There was also the appalling partisanship which resulted in applicants to diplomatic posts in Iraq being questioned on their political views. It is my belief that more and more illustrations like this will appear far into the future.

Scott Horton has a nice article
on another aspect of this. The Public Affairs Office at the Department of Defense is supposed to deal with "public information, internal information, community relations, information training, and audiovisual matters". Instead, under Bush and Rumsfeld they worked as “Department for the Political Instruction of Cadres”. Horton lists a few cases over the years when this office tried to shamelessly discredit with utter disregard for truth anyone daring to criticize any Pentagon activity.

The latest case came yesterday when Obama mentioned the following story in the Democratic debate:

I heard from an Army captain, who was the head of a rifle platoon, supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24, because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. And as a consequence, they didn’t have enough ammunition; they didn’t have enough humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.

This story has been confirmed by ABC and NBC. That doesn't stop the the administration officials brazenly calling it a lie. As Horton writes, the concept of truth is different for them.
But you’d have to understand just what Mr. Whitman means by “truth” to fully appreciate the meaning of his comments. My understanding of the way the phrase works is pretty simple, and widespread in the world. Truth serves the interests of the party. Truth is what we make it. And since the interests of the party are served by implying that Barack Obama is a liar, even though Mr. Whitman has no basis to say that, of course he’ll charge right ahead and do it.


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