Bush’s “Alternative Reality” Is Subject of News Report by Associated Press

Brian Zick

The focus of attention and language used in this report is rather noteworthy. It's very polite and emotionally detached, and the basic premise is nothing new to op-ed columnists, let alone bloggers. But this is a wire service news account, and it comes mighty close to essentially reciting the fable of the emperors invisible clothes, even including text which parallels the final sentence of the tale "So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all.Jennifer Loven for AP reports: Confronted with strong opposition to his Iraq policies, President Bush decides to interpret public opinion his own way. Actually, he says, people agree with him. (…) Increasingly isolated on a war that is going badly, Bush has presented his alternative reality in other ways, too. He expresses understanding for the public's dismay over the unrelenting sectarian violence and American losses that have passed 3,400, but then asserts that the public's solution matches his. (…) Bush said: "I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, `Get out, you know, it's just not worth it. Let's just leave.' I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well."In fact, polls show Americans do not disagree, and that leaving — not winning — is their main goal. (…) Bush aides say poll questions are asked so many ways, and often so imprecisely, that it is impossible to conclude that most Americans really want to get out. Failure, Bush says, is not what the public wants — they just don't fully understand that that is just what they will get if troops are pulled out before the Iraqi government is capable of keeping the country stable on its own. (…) Independent pollster Andrew Kohut said of the White House view: "I don't see what they're talking about.""They want to know when American troops are going to leave," Kohut, director of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, said of the public. "They certainly want to win. But their hopes have been dashed." (…) Wayne Fields, an expert on presidential rhetoric at Washington University in St. Louis, said the president's new language exploits the fact that there is no one alternative strategy for the public to coalesce around, which clearly spells out how to bring troops home. Bush can argue that people agree with him because no one can define the alternative, Fields said.But, with the president's job approval ratings so low and the public well aware of what it thinks about the war, Bush is taking a big gamble."This is a very tricky thing in our politics. We want to think that we want our leaders to stand up to public opinion. But we also like to think of ourselves as being in a democracy where we are listened to," Fields said. "He risks either the notion of being thought out of touch … or to be thought simply duplicitous." "Either"? More like "both."

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