Monday, September 11, 2006

Bush 9/11: Tasteless and Formulaic


I watched Bush's 9/11 speech on PBS, introduced by Lehrer who noted that the President had said that his speech "wouldn't be political."

Within 2 minutes it seemed, Bush had introduced the Iraq theme, associating the war in Iraq with 9/11, making the usual noises about protecting America from the Bad Guys and bringing "freedom" to the people of the middle east. These themes meandered through the speech like fat marbling red meat--the speech was carefully crafted.

My first impression, politics aside, was that it was in bad taste. I wonder how many other Americans thought that? This was the time to talk about heroic firefighters, to console the widows and orphans and to talk about us pulling together as a nation--not to manipulate public sentiments in support of the Iraq war.

The rest of the speech was the usual malarkey about spreading freedom and democracy, enhanced with allusions to the fight against fascism and nazism during WWII and Communism during the Cold War. I wonder how effective this appeal is given that few Americans remember WWII and that many don't remember the Cold War.

The analogy in any case isn't apt. For those of us who remember Communism, or Fascism, the image that horrified us was the picture of masses marching goose step, working in grim satanic mills or waving their Little Red Books during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It was the horror of group-think, of individuality submerged, the oppressiveness of impersonal technology and individuals marching in lockstep to the Great Leader and to the Machine. Islamicism just does not plug into this template and so the rhetoric of "freedom" doesn't ring true.

I don't think Bush has either helped himself or hurt himself with this speech. I'm waiting to hear what cleverer bloggers and journalists have to say.

1 comment:

Sanpete said...

As far as I can tell, a lot of the bloggers and pundits agree with you, and so do I. I didn't listen to the speech. I have such low expectations from Bush about candor that I don't see tha point. That may not be the best attitude. I would perhaps listen afterwards if I heard that something subtle and important that required careful listening was said.