My sister, Erica Barber, forwarded me a pass-along she’d gotten in her e-mail, adding, “I’m sure you can do a better (and faster) job of responding to this than I can. The generalizations are appalling.”
I wrote back: “These are not honest errors. Anyone who knows enough history to write this letter in the first place necessarily knows that the claims it’s making are false. This is deliberate deception. … What’s equally disturbing is that it’s a piece of professional copywriting.”
And so it is: slick, confident, focused, and impersonal, as anonymous as a doorknob that’s been wiped clean of fingerprints. There are no hesitations, no intrusions of personal voice, no traces of specific issues or locations or circumstances. I don’t know how much time you’ve spent staring at high-priced ad copy (less than I have, if you’re lucky), but the stuff is surprisingly hard to write. It’s not a natural style. It has to convey emotion without evidencing the kinds of distortion in the text that strong emotions produce.
Obviously, then, I’d love to know who wrote this and sent it out into the world. I don’t believe for a moment that it started life as a letter to the editor. What I do know about it is that it’s cynical. As I said to my sister, if you know enough history to write the thing, you know its claims are false. What I infer is that its creators view their target audience, not as fellow citizens, nor as brothers in arms, but as a bunch of suckers.No matter what political views you hold, a person who’d write such a letter is not on your side. Want to give me a hand annotating this? I’ll start. Forgive me if I run a bit long on its rhetorical construction.
Bush Stacks Up Well The following appeared in the local paper as a letter to the editor.Which local paper, in response to what?
Please forward to all on your list as this will put things in perspective:I believe that’s meant to give you the idea that the piece is merely a corrective response to some unspecified attack on the truth that’s taken place Out There Somewhere. It isn’t, of course.
Liberals …A heavily-funded years-long nationwide campaign has been devoted to poisoning the word “liberal”. The result is that “liberal” can now be used to condemn something without requiring that the writer spell out what these evil liberals’ position is, or why they’ve taken it. And why is this necessary? Because when you (that’s all of you: greetings, readers!) are polled on the the actual issues and policies involved, you frequently agree with them, or at least can see the sense in them.
This has worked so well that they now use “liberal” to denounce centrist policies and traditional practices. Once you’ve gone to that much work to wire a button, you might as well keep pressing it.
But I digress.To speak more directly to the pass-along itself, liberals are hardly the only ones who think Bush shouldn’t have started the war. People all over the U.S. political spectrum hold that opinion. So do the majority of what used to be our overseas allies, friends, and well-wishers. The administration has squandered a century or more of global good will, accumulated via innumerable good deeds and good examples.
… claim President Bush shouldn’t have started this war. They complain about his prosecution of it. One liberal recently claimed Bush was the worst president in U.S. history.Again, which liberal, where? It would be very odd for a normal citizen to write an entire piece in response to something, but never identify the thing it’s in response to. That goes double for letters to the editor, which are presumed to be responses to stuff that’s appeared in that publication.
Also, note that while only the initial statement, “Bush was the worst president in U.S. history,” is specifically attributed to A. Liberal, it’s followed by a laundry list of loose claims about the Bush administration.Finally, while I have seen Bush described that way, his conduct of the war was hardly the only malfeasance mentioned.
Let’s clear up one point: We didn’t start the war on terror. Try to remember, it was started by terrorists on 9/11.We were not attacked by Saddam Hussein or his minions on 9/11. We were attacked by al Qaeda guys, a group of Saudis (mostly) based in Afghanistan. Bush & Co.’s response on that day was to start trying to figure out how to pin it on Saddam Hussein, whom they already wanted to have a war with.
Let’s look at the “worst” president and mismanagement claims. FDR led us into World War II. Germany never attacked us: Japan did. From 1941-1945, 450,000 lives were lost, an average of 112,500 per year.Germany declared war on us shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
As for direct attacks, on 31 October 1941 a German sub attacked and sank the Reuben James in the North Atlantic. You can look it up. There’s even a song.But here now, I’ll stop. I’m hogging on all the fun.
Truman finished that war and started one in Korea, North Korea never attacked us. From 1950-1953, 55,000 lives were lost,an average of 18,333 per year.Have at it, guys.
John F. Kennedy started the Vietnam conflict in 1962. Vietnam never attacked us. Johnson turned Vietnam into a quagmire. From 1965-1975, 58,000 lives were lost, an average of 5,800 per year.
Clinton went to war in Bosnia without UN or French consent. Bosnia never attacked us. He was offered Osama bin Laden’s head on a platter three times by Sudan and did nothing. Osama has attacked us on multiple occasions.
In the two years since terrorists attacked us, President Bush has liberated two countries, crushed the Taliban, crippled al-Qaida. Put nuclear inspectors in Libya, Iran and North Korea without firing a shot, and captured a terrorist who slaughtered 300,000 of his own people.We lost 600 soldiers, an average of 300 a year. Bush did all this abroad while not allowing another terrorist attack at home. Worst president in history? Come on!