Bush Latest in Long Line of White House Residents to Blame the Media

While the rest of us complain about the media’s fawning over the Bush administration cronies and failing to deliver the real news, Bush is joining a long line of men living in the White House to complain that the media is raising uncomfortable questions that make it harder to carry out his war. Nixon did it, Reagan did it, Bush I did it, Clinton did it. I don’t know if Carter did it, but he didn’t really have a war he could call his own. Ford might have done it if he’d been in office long enough.

CNN reports “Bush frustrated with media coverage of war”. On one hand, I can’t help but wonder what planet Bush has been living on–it’s pretty clear that ratings and audience share are what drives the media, and for the millions of Americans with family, friends, and neighbors involved in the invasion, nothing short of “faultless” is good enough news. That this war, or indeed any war, is not faultless is anchor enough for the kind of sensationalism that is the stock in trade of today’s media.

But putting the nature of the media aside, Bush seems shocked because, as one of his spokesmen says, he believes the “war is going well”. Now, we may be on schedule, we may be achieving our objectives (whatever those are), but let’s face it–it’s a war, and wars don’t “go well”. For a long time I discounted the “chicken hawk” argument as the weakest link in the anti-war movement’s strategy, but now I’m not so sure. It seems as if Bush seriously doesn’t understand what being at war means for the people involved, from military personnel and their families to peace activists and, really, Americans of all sorts. And let’s not forget the Iraqis, and neither let us forget the rest of the Arab nations or, really, the rest of the world. War means people are being killed, and unless you are an executioner, people getting killed doesn’t “go well”.

The media is capitalizing not on American’s desire to see Bush’s strategy masterfully executed, but on our desire not to see blood unnecessarily shed. We have, even in my lifetime (though I was but a lad when the Vietnam War ended) seen government officials all too ready to futilely waste lives to gain or keep political leverage at home. Bush strikes even the most trusting among us as just cynical enough to follow in Nixon’s and Johnson’s footsteps. When even the Vietnamese, who know this nation’s military identity perhaps better than anyone, warn us that our forces are inadequate to the task at hand, and a bloody and difficult struggle awaits us ahead, Bush’s assurance that things are “going well” rings just a bit hollow.

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