Thursday, June 12, 2003

Ok, I should be back online and blogging regularly within the next few days. With any luck, someone will have stuck around and waited. Heh.

(Maybe I should go the Eschaton route and give others access? It's probably the wave of the future, blog-as-magazine that is.)


In my absence, I've been noticing a smell permeating the American political landscape. I couldn't identify it before, but I can now: it's the smell of the dying post-9/11 Bush "honeymoon". I hadn't really expected the WMD issue to have legs, because most Americans have probably decided to "move on", but it seems that the media has latched onto this issue. This despite the question of whether it's really a good idea to tick off a loyalty-obsessed White House.

Funny, though, because I think the headlong media-supported rush to war and the current media-supported "where are the WMDs?" controversy stem from the same thing: the desire for a simple narrative. Before the war, the debate over whether to invade didn't really revolve around complex questions of sovereignty and nationality and statehood and nation-building so much as simple questions like "is Iraq a threat" and "Is it right to go kill the evil dictator?" This helped Bush enormously- the arguments against invasion were more difficult (if, in my opinion, ultimately more compelling) than the arguments for it, and as television functions as a kind of Occam's Razor when it comes to debate (simpler the better), we ended up with a drumbeat for war.

Now, though, the situation is different. The war itself is old news, and while Americans (media and otherwise) are glad they won with a minimum of casualties, that desire for an understandable story by the media is still there, and it's being fulfilled by this "where are the WMDs?" furor. It has three very compelling aspects to it: it's relatively simple ("did they lie to us, or were they deceived"?) it's relatively safe (the war is over, and the occupation is a reality, so there's no danger of guessing wrong and getting killed for it), and it taps into that most quintessentially American of attitudes: distrust of authority. Those factors (among others) make it a pretty compelling story.

(Outside the U.S., of course, it's much simpler. They were against it, they thought Bush was lying, and they think they're proven right.)

How far this goes, I can't say. I doubt it'll mess with public attitudes any more than the Clinton impeachment did. What it may do is pry the media away from Bush's spin, just a little. That, I think, will be an unquestionably good thing.

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