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Hullabaloo


Sunday, December 04, 2005

 
Credibility Gap

by digby

A few people have e-mailed me today to tip me to this story in the NY Times about the NSC pollster who wrote the first draft of the president's "victory" speech last week.

I try not to do this too much because, well, it's stupid, but I can't help but point out that I've been harping on this for months, as my regular readers know. In fact, I wrote about it again the day before Bush's speech last week when I heard him say "We wanna WIN" at that press conference at the border. I am not in the least bit surprised that the speech originated with this fellow: they are desperate to believe that he's right and all they have to do is sell victory to get their poll numbers back up.

This advisor, Peter Feaver and a partner Christopher Gelpi produced a study that purports to prove that Vietnam wasn't "lost" because of mounting casualties; it was because the American people became convinced we were losing when the political leadership became irresolute. I'm not qualified to comment on the data which I haven't seen anyway, except to say as someone who was there at the time that this is bullshit. The problem was the "credibility gap." Ordinary citizens just didn't believe a word the government said about the war after a certain point because it had been pumping the country full of horseshit happy talk for years. Nobody knew what the truth was, except that the war just seemed to go on and on forever, kids were dying in great numbers with no real progress and no real purpose.

Mr Feaver seems to believe that the country still trusts George W. Bush. But they have to be delusionary to believe they could sell a war on a "grave and gathering danger" of "a smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud" and then think that they could maintain their credibility when it turns out that there was actually --- nothing. They shot the moon and lost.

In that respect, Iraq is quite different from Vietnam. Vietnam wasn't based on one big huge lie, but a succession of lies over a long period that only came into focus over time. Iraq was sold as a dramatic necessity in a big, brash marketing campaign with slogans and theme songs in a very short period of time for specific and memorable reasons that still echo loudly just two years later.


THE PRESIDENT: This is a guy who was asked to declare his weapons, said he didn't have any. This is a person who we have proven to the world is deceiving everybody -- I mean, he's a master at it. He's a master of deception. As I said yesterday, he'll probably try it again. He'll probably try to lie his way out of compliance or deceive or put out some false statement. You know, if he wanted to disarm, he would have disarmed. We know what a disarmed regime looks like.
I heard somebody say the other day, well, how about a beefed-up inspection regime. Well, the role of inspectors is to sit there and verify whether or not he's disarmed, not to play hide-and-seek in a country the size of California. If Saddam Hussein was interested in peace and interested in complying with the U.N. Security Council resolutions, he would have disarmed. And, yet, for 12 years, plus 90 days, he has tried to avoid disarmament by lying and deceiving.

Yes, John, last question, then we've got to go swear the man in.

Q Sir, if the Security Council doesn't go along with you, what happens then?

THE PRESIDENT: I have said that if Saddam Hussein does not disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. And I mean it.



You can't convince the country that we are winning against all evidence to the contrary once you have been proven an ass on that scale. The game was up for Bush as soon as people fully realized that the WMD threat didn't exist. Either Bush was a liar or an idiot. Unfortunately, it didn't happen until after the last election.



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