"Our Karl Rove is the blog you should be glad that Democratic strategists don't seem to listen to"
-- what they're saying on Republican blogs

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Democrats: Extend an Invitation to the Axis of Evil

Democrats & Fellow Citizens,

It's happening again. The Bush administration is re-framing reality so effectively that most people (even those of us paying attention) are being taken by another shell game of magnificent proportions. But before we dive into what's happening now, it's important to look back at what just happened...

Reality Distortion

Last time, the Bush administration's re-framing of reality successfully coaxed most of the country -- including the press and Democratic politicians -- into believing that Iraq was an imminent threat, ready to blow us up with nukes, anthrax, or whatever it was that Saddam supposedly had hidden away in his little lair in Baghdad.

In effect, the Bush administration created a reality distortion field. A reality distortion field is a term that has been widely used to describe Apple's Steve Jobs in the technology sector, but it's also quite applicable to Bush & friends: Modern Republicans have proven to be naturals at framing new "realities" (as they see them) based on spurious and speculative information. Then, they effortlessly convey these "realities" to the masses in a way that makes them appear unmistakably and unerringly right... and righteous. Doing this distorts the reality in ways that are difficult to prove, and easy to subscribe to. They distort reality just enough to make their "new reality" sound legitimate, even though it's not.

The Iraq reality distortion field was able to withstand real reality for three full years during which the U.S. eviscerated any shred of goodwill it had left in the pressure-cooked Middle East. And only after three years did the press, Dems, and most everyone else come to their senses and promise "never again."

I hate to break the news, but...here we go again.

Here's a quick test to see if you've been trapped within the latest foreign policy reality distortion field unleashed by this Republican administration: What Islamic country is autocratic, out-of-control, terrorist-harboring, WMD-selling, has nuclear weapon manufacturing abilities, and is run by a President that lacks in democratic convictions, speaks out of both sides of his mouth, and took control of his country by military coup?

If you answered "Iran" then you've already fallen into the Bush/Cheney trap of re-framing reality in a way that simply doesn't represent reality - the reality distortion field. Worse, the country described above -- which is not Iran -- is considered to be an ally to this administration and most Republicans.

So, why are we all talking about Iran? Because Dick Cheney has a laser-like focus on Iran like nobody's business. This aggressive, manipulative positioning of Iran as the latest source of all the U.S.'s problems in the Middle East (i.e., Hezbolah, Iraq, nukes... you name it) is not only misguided, but incredibly misleading. And when I say that this is reminiscent of the Iraq drumbeat back in 2002, don't confuse this comparison with knee-jerk liberal screaming. Here at OKR, we have substantive concerns around this newfound "love to hate Iran" refrain that go well beyond predictable partisan emotions.

This Iranian focus has a two-fold effect:

1. Iran gives this administration something new to blame for all the problems they've had in securing Iraq.

2. Blaming Iran conveniently and effectively deflects attention from this administration's failure to deal with Pakistan -- the multi-dimensional menace to U.S. security [the answer to the test above].

The Problem with Pakistan

Under Pervez Musharraf's rule, Pakistan is the underlying U.S. security threat in the region. Yet because the Bush administration has a president in Pakistan that is compliant with U.S. demands, the U.S. turns a blind eye to the astounding problems that Pakistan creates. This goes to show how much this administration values loyalty over everything else, including U.S. security. A loyal Musharraf makes the Bush administration believe that he is an ally, thereby deeming Pakistan an official U.S. ally.

So, what's wrong with Musharraf?

  1. He was not democratically elected, nor does he endorse democratic elections.
  2. He does not have full control of his country, allowing Al Q'aida and Bin Laden a safe haven within his uncontrolled country borders
  3. He allowed a massive nuclear weapon trading scheme to happen under his nose, where real WMDs were sold to the highest bidders around the world (including potential terrorist groups)
  4. He is duplicitous -- telling his country one thing and telling our country something entirely different. Which Musharraf is to be believed?
This is what's meant by "here we go again": Ignoring the Pakistani Problem is a flagrant violation of all U.S. standards that have been set by this very administration. Yet, this administration has once again successfully created a reality distortion field where the conventional wisdom is now that Iran is the next big danger, and Pakistan isn't even part of any security conversation in our country.

This is dangerous. The nation once again is being guided by distorted reality, and it's quite disturbing to see it happen all over again when most of us should, by now, know just a bit better.

But it's not enough to just talk about it. We need to demand more from the press, our politicians, and our fellow citizens. Let's not let ourselves once again get distracted and misled by a dangerously misguided administration.

Here are some talking points for all of us to use as we call, write, and communicate with the press and our politicians:
  • Why is Pakistan an U.S. ally if they are harboring Al Q'aida and Bin Ladin?
  • What's stopping America from putting our full energy into weeding out Al Q'aida in Pakistan?
  • Why is an undemocratic leader in Pakistan our ally while we spend our blood and treasure trying to introduce Democracy in Iraq? Isn't that a double-standard?
  • If U.S. policies vary from country to country, does this Republican administration really have principles?
  • Which is more dangerous to America now: a country that is trying to create nuclear weapons or a country that already has them and his harboring Al Q'aida's leadership?
  • Why doesn't the so-called Bush Doctrine apply to Pakistan?
  • If the people responsible for 9/11 are in Pakistan, why are we focused so much on Iraq and Iran?
Note: While the Axis of Evil reference in the title is designed to be catchy and clever, we should never use George Bush's phraseology framework to talk about contemporary political issues. There is no Axis of Evil. There are countries that actively work against us, but that doesn't make them evil. It makes them, at the very worst, enemies. Evil has a much higher bar -- one that should be reserved for the likes of Dick Cheney.

9 comments:

SoonerThought said...

Good stuff, as usual. Any thoughts on Joe Biden? I really think he would be an excellent president.

kileen said...

nice, intelligent obvious observation. when are you super political activists going to realize there is no "moderate republicans" or "democrats" or "liberals" or "conservatives??" they are all elites working against us regulars and have their heels on our throats.

http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

put your beliefs aside, look at the facts and decide. who are you with??

Jon said...

SoonerThought,

Joe Biden is a smart and conscientious foreign policy legislator and thought leader. Unfortunately, this is not enough to become President. He has clearly demonstrated that he's really not interested in being President of the USA. He is interested in being Secretary of Defense.

He might not even realize this yet himself (!), but this is something he'll come to realize soon enough.

Kileen,

Just because your paranoid doesn't mean that people aren't after you. Your world view is mutual exclusive with many others -- it's not a choice between them. There certainly are moderates (in fact, most people are), but at the same time, the forces of political power drag politicians to extreme symbolic positions that provide clarity in brand association. Just like you assert.

That doesn't mean that there's no hope. On the contrary, if we can transform the power dynamic toward the sober and moderate, the power will gravitate toward the middle.

The challenge is for people to rally around this power dynamic and not be distracted by the personalities that simply abstract this process.

Thanks for bringing this up -- this is a very important point. It's similar to MoveOn's mistake with the Betray Us ad. They missed the mark because they focused on symbols in the form of people instead of the real issues we're dealing with. It's a shortcut to impact. Too often, shortcuts don't have any lasting impact.

To change the power dynamic, a lot of hard work will need to be done on the causes, effects, and reward systems in place.

I.M.Small said...

WHY?

When words begin to be misused
As "homeland" for "domestic,"
Yet they have carefully been choosed
By powers high majestic--

You know the game´s afoot (quoth Holmes),
Some kind of subterfuge,
Dishonesty, the word-choice helms:
For scarlet isn´t rouge.

Typical euphemistic tilt
Connotes phrase of the varlet,
Pressing a scam, concealing guilt
Or sins that yet are scarlet.

It is work for the honest man
Tilt to identify,
And so addressing stop the scam--
It´s easy if you try
(By simply asking why).

Redbeard72 said...

Good article. I agree with your basic contention that Pakistan has been "ignored" for far too long and that Iran does not pose much of a threat - except in their oil reserves. However, I do disagree with the notion that Bin Laden is hiding out somewhere in the mountains of Pakistan; this is the ultimate case of the reality distortion field you mentioned. I have seen no credible evidence that Bin Laden is still alive. In fact, after his last "message" a few weeks ago, there was scant coverage of it in the media outside the U.S. and little in depth coverage of it here. Might members of al Qaeda still be hiding out in Pakistan? Certainly, but, at this point, I feel that we need to begin to see Bin Laden for what he has become; a boogey-man that the Bushists trot out to scare their dwindling supporters into submission.

Jon said...

Hi Redbeard,

You make an interesting point. It is possible that Bin Laden is neither there or alive. That could be Al Q'aida's reality distortion field at work.

However, Bin Laden or no, there are folks in the mountains of Pakistan that are a troubling in terms of their agenda and focus.

That said, they might only be troubling because we haven't figured out exactly what will set them straight. Only focusing on fighting clearly isn't the long-term solution to any of these contemporary security threats.

Angry Grrl said...

Just found your blog -- good stuff! I agree that we need to hold the administration's feet to the fire, somehow, on the Pakistan problem and the fact that Iran is not the real serious ME threat.

Darren said...

God bless America - where even the ANTI-American idiots are able to speak their minds...

Though there is truth behind the facade of misguided information that most politicians, (as well as the majority of politics today) has degraded to nothing more than a grotesque fight for power and money – that doesn’t mean describing the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who has stated outright the intent to wipe out an entire nation from the face of the earth (Israel) as well as do whatever it takes to bring about the “great war” and thus the “12th Imam” to the planet) as simply an “enemy” while in the same breath declaring the Vise-President Dick Cheney as “evil”. Even if you disagree with the Vise-President over issues, to make such a contrasting inference negates any credibility of further statements…

A couple of examples:

You stated: “…the Bush administration's re-framing of reality successfully coaxed most of the country -- including the press and Democratic politicians -- into believing that Iraq was an imminent threat…” I’m sorry. Even though we may not agree on numerous aspects war, the TRUTH is, if the press was duped (which is another discussion entirely), it was done by BOTH parties of leadership (…and England, and Poland, and Australia, and Japan, and Saudi Arabia, and…). Every single one of the Democrats that voted to go to war had equal access to the information about Iraq and their current doings. Answer me this; when have either modern political parties ever just “followed suit” and not put up a “horrendous fight” over anything the other party suggests? – Especially over something as vast as a war? Again, I’m sorry. To suggest this is not saying too much about your reasoning power, let alone the arguable dimwittedness of the Democrats.

You state: “Modern Republicans have proven to be naturals at framing new "realities" (as they see them) based on spurious and speculative information.” Oh. OK. JUST “Modern Republicans”? I’d love to hear you defend a couple of the arguably even more “spurious and speculative” Modern Democrats ideas / deceits.

It would be interesting to speak to a few of the individuals who so strongly apposed the leadership and likes of Washington, Lincoln, FDR… who’s “warmongering” made this country (as well as the world) a much better, safer, and freer place. I suppose that hindsight will once again be the wiser.

Again, while we can agree that the majority of the modern political arena is surreally erroneous, please stop mistakenly posing to be a “leftist extremist” yourself.

Jon said...

Hi Darren,

Thanks for posting your position on the matter. I understand what you're saying and where you're coming from.

Allow me to respond on two different levels: Strategic & Tactical.

Strategic response:

You've missed the point of the blog. I'm posting as a persona of a fictitious Democratic/progressive version of Karl Rove. This means, by definition, being partisan and working hard to frame reality as the Democrats would like to shape the world based on their values.

Now, me, "Jon" (the anonymous person who assumes the role of this persona I've created), does not always share the views, fervor, or venom that the OKR persona must display in order to be effective at the blog's purpose. However, it is my belief that the Dems need someone like Karl Rove on their side or else they risk never pushing an alternative agenda through America's politics. This is why I created the persona, and why I write what I write here.

If you don't want to read what a Democratic Karl Rove would advise Democrats, then I advise you do not read this blog. It will just frustrate the heck out of you.

Now, for the tactical response:

Your first point: You cannot hide behind the fact that the Democrats also went along with the re-framing of the Iraq War as an excuse not to blame the Republican majority. Sorry -- leadership has its privileges and its responsibilities. The Republicans were in full leadership across all houses of government, and so they take all the blame for leading the minority party, the press, and the public into a horribly conceived war. In addition, Cheney and co. put special effort into ensuring that the information people had access to was tipped in the direction of their agenda. This has been proven so many times that I'm not going to go into details. Let's just put it this way: Cheney created his own intelligence unit within the White House to compete with the CIA because the CIA wasn't telling him what he wanted to hear. This is at a minimum coercive, and at worse, idealogical bulldozing that does not respect our institutions.

Your second point: Again, you defer blame to prior people in history instead of Democrats this time. Do you see what you're doing? You're not allowing the leaders to take responsibility for their leadership. You can't have it both ways -- if you want to lead (and be president, VP, etc.) then you are accountable for all that you decide. So, Democrats (until 2006) were free from this responsibility. Everything from 2000-2006 can and should be squarely fastened upon the Republican brand because they not only deserve it, they asked for it by being elected into leadership positions.

Deferring blame is an approach to avoiding accountability. If there's one thing that is really infuriating with the Baby Boomer generation is the skill and talents created to do just this.

Hopefully the new generation of Americans (and global citizens) will sniff this out and shift their talents and efforts from finger pointing to standing up for their mistakes. This is not a partisan issue -- it's a societal issue. But, like I said, from 2000-2006, the Republican Party gets blamed for everything that went wrong because that's the role they signed up for. Case closed.

Jon