The Great Cheerleader

Cheerleader Bush is donning his pom-poms and launching a massive public relations campaign to convince us how swell things are in Iraq:

In the face of growing doubts about postwar Iraq, Bush is leading a new public-relations offensive to highlight positive developments.

Thursday, in the speech to troops, Bush was emphasizing signs of progress in Iraq, what Bush calls “the central front in the war on terrorism,” and what the events mean for “the safety and security of the American people,” White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

He warmed up Wednesday night with a speech at a fund-raiser in Washington sponsored by the Republican National Convention.

“Since the liberation of Iraq, our investigators have found evidence of a clandestine network of biological laboratories, the advance design work on prohibited long-range missiles, elaborate campaign to hide these illegal programs,” Bush said.

“Design work”?? I remember Powell at the UN crying out that war was necessary right away because Saddam refused to disarm. He said Saddam had WMDs. He didn’t say we were going to war because Saddam had design work.

As to how great things are going in Iraq: I hated the Saddam regime and wondered at time, albeit hesitantly, whether the invasion might be justified purely on humanitarian grounds. I sure got rid of that attitude quickly. Now I can only laugh at Bush’s feeble attempts to turn chicken shit into chicken salad.

I’m sure there are a lot of good things happening in Iraq and that many Iraqis still welcome us. But with the daily picking off and bombing of our soldiers, with the refusal of most of our allies to support us, and with ever-growing demands for our money and men, you don’t have to be a genius to know that things are not on track over there.

As a PR person myself, I can safely say Bush is now practicing what we call crisis management, which is something of a misnomer. He cannot manage the crisis, as it has taken on a life of its own. What he can try to do is manage the perception of the crisis, and based on this article he’s doing a pretty poor job.

First rule in crisis management is acknowledging the problem and being up-front about it (you know, the way the Chinese have been with AIDS and SARS). Denying the problem, trying to paint it as something it isn’t, and trying to prop things up with false expectations — those are the ingredients for implosion and ultimately a total loss of credibility. Again, China’s handling of SARS is a classic example.

So I hope W knows what he’s doing.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

As a PR guy, you should be quick to recognize the article you quote is spinning the Iraq good news as a figment of a Bush PR campaign, but instead you seem to have fallen for the anti-Bush PR campaign of this article and most others. Similarly, you seem to have fallen for the “imminent threat” lie that the media has perpetuated (in anti-Bush collusion) and Andrew Sullivan has convincingly refuted. (9/11 taught us that we can’t ignore terror-sponsoring states, and Bush clearly said we CANNOT WAIT until there is an imminent threat to stop Saddam. ) I wonder if you believe there’s no liberal bias to the news, even as the vast majority of newsmen (except for Fox) are liberals. You don’t have to be a Limbaugh fanatic to recognize liberal bias — even most liberals recognize it. Good to know you supported the war to begin with even as you knew the successful waging of it might boost the carrer of a politician you dislike, but perhaps your contempt for Bush has gotten the better of you recently.

October 14, 2003 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

The topic of a liberal media has been debated at fearful lengths. All I’ll say is that I watched as the “liberal media” covered the Lewinsky scandal literally 24/7, seizing on any rumor, any scintillating tidbit that would lend the story new energy. MSNBC and CNN et. al. became all Monical all the time. So I reject blanket statements about a liberal or conservative media. They’ll go with the story that sells. There are definitely some blatantly liberal stories we can point to, as well as conservative ones. I have never seen a liberal station descend into such blatant bias as Fox (although at times I thought the BBC came pretty close).

I find the current furor over the word “imminent” to be kind of droll. Maybe they never used that word. Maybe they never said we were in immediate danger. But watching Colin Powell in January in front of the UN describing the active ricin plants and all sorts of other imaginary WMDs, no one can ever convince me that the administration wasn’t warning of a very dire threat of very specific weapons, some of which were ready to use. Now the language has changed to “weapons programs.” Whatever. To say that they are singing the same song now as they were before the invasion is simply untrue. Right after we won, the chant from Bush and Blair was we WILL find these weapons. Now, Bush is pointing to 1991 and saying they HAD weapons and they used them (12 years ago). As though that vindicates his belligerent arguments of the immediate need to invade.
My contempt for Bush is built on very specific arguments, and came about only after I gave him the benefit of the doubt for months. I had already felt this contempt, before the war, for his economic idiocies and reactionary approach to social isues. But in spite of that, I said I agreed with him on the war (and still do). I complained about the protesters who likened him to Saddam, and to those who thought being on Saddam’s side was to be on the side of “peace.” So I think all in all I’ve been pretty fair with Bush. Maybe too fair.

October 15, 2003 @ 4:33 am | Comment

Perhaps you impose an impossible standard on the administration’s sale of the war to the world. Some people have not forgotten UN efforts to hamstring the US (and the UN!).

October 15, 2003 @ 6:18 am | Comment

Maybe. But I don’t think so. Looking at how Bush handled treaties and agreements with the world in his first 18 months in office, one can trace how he simply reaped what he had sewn. He was amazingly arrogant and haughty, and Iraq gavve the world a once in a lifetime opportunity to throw it back in Bush’s face. Tragic, because the whole world would be a better place today if it had been a truly multilateral effort. But Bush has only himself to blame for the unnecessary resentment he fostered.

October 15, 2003 @ 7:01 am | Comment

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