Karen Hughes, the Truth Ambassador

The ever-on-message Bush crony Karen Hughes was just sworn in as the nation’s undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, charged with polishing America’s tarnished image in the eyes of a skeptical world. I don’t envy her her task.

I won’t go on about Hughes and her ability to lie on cue. Suffice it to say I consider her the second most loathesome menace in the Bush coterie, surpassed only by the Prince of Darkness himself, Karl Rove. I actually think Bush himself and Cheney and Rumsfeld, for all their shortcomings and crimes, have at least a semblance of a conscience. Not so Ms. Hughes, who will go to whatever lengths necessary to protect little boy George, no matter how shameless she has to be.

This isn’t a reverberation of the liberal echo chamber. Conservative talking head Tucker Carlson backed up these claims in an interview in 2003. Everyone who is tempted to believe even a monosyllabe that escapes Hughes’ lips should read what Carlson said.

I’ve obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness.

Hughes is the kind of [media]whore who gives PR people a very bad name. She is not human, she is a talking-points robot, a string of sound bites laid end to end. Check out the WaPo article linked above and see how to Karen, everything can be solved by following her talking points. No matter how dire the crisis, if we say it’s okay and all stay on-message, the little people on the ground will swallow it. Prepare for a full-frontal assault on truth as the message queen gets ready to bombard the world with her carefully crafted memes and blatant (but so sincere-sounding!) lies. She is symptomatic of everything that is rotten with this administration.

Update: This blogger is even more outspoken about Hughes than I am, if such is possible.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

No echo chamber? Maybe not, but I’m stuck for an alternate explanation of the venom other than the unlikely possibility that Karen Hughes dumped you and it’s personal. Venom, venom, let’s count the ways…
1. ever-on-message Bush crony Karen Hughes
2. I won’t go on about Hughes and her ability to lie on cue
3. whore
4. She is not human
5. she is a talking-points robot
6. the message queen
7. She is symptomatic of everything that is rotten

That’s seven knives in four paragraphs. Karen should benefit if only by your obvious, over-the-top aggressiveness.

Generally, people do the job that they’re required to do. Different job requirements lead to different behaviors and mature people give even their worst enemies the time to open up their mouths and demonstrate whether they’ve changed or it’s the same old, same old as before.

Karen Hughes does have a tough job. It’s a job that needs to be done for the country’s sake and is made more difficult by day 1 venomous criticism, especially when such criticism is likely to be read abroad.

What kind of whirlwind are you sowing for the next Democrat administration to reap? What is going to happen to us all in the inevitable orgy of tit for tat? This kind of thing is just ill conceived.

September 9, 2005 @ 4:29 pm | Comment

Sorry, but I won’t mask my feelings for the lady. The venom and harsh words were totally intentional, and I write the same way about Karl Rove and others who I see intentionally prevaricating and misleading the American people, selling snake oil and abusing their positions. I stand by all my claims and can document them. Did you read Tucker Carlson’s quote? He’s not even a liberal, and says her ability to lie effortlessly borders on “mental illness”! But it’s only me, the liberal, who is at fault.

I never met Karen and she never hurt me personally. But I’ve been watching her for four years, and I have plenty of reason to fear and despise her. Everything I say about her lying and being inhuman has been said many times before. I simply state it with a little more passion. It’s time we start calling it like it is and take off the kid gloves. No more mister nice guy.

September 9, 2005 @ 4:42 pm | Comment

oh, the old “let’s not point fingers and criticize the White House during a time of war/crisis/falling poll numbers…”

Especially that last one.

September 9, 2005 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

“Venom?” HA! If you want to read some REAL venom, go and read what America’s founding fathers wrote about each other (and to each other.) And THEY actually LIKED each other – but still they went at it hammer and tongs sometimes.
The relationship between Adams and Jefferson is especially interesting.

September 9, 2005 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

What I wrote was not about masking your feelings but rather that by going so personal, so nasty on her first day on the job you’ve crossed a line that shouldn’t have been crossed. Do you really think that Tucker Carlson would approve of you using his negative comments about Karen Hughes as an excuse to call her a whore and “not human”? I think it unlikely.

I don’t think that it’s unpatriotic to criticize the White House. I don’t think that it was unpatriotic to criticize the last White House. There’s a good chance I’ll be the one doing an awful lot of criticizing of the next White House so I’d like to keep my options open.

There has always been a tradition in the US that criticism of the government was muted in overseas venues. The grounds for this were various but the one that made the most sense for me was that foreigners tended to see the dissent without understanding the underlying unity that allowed this dissent to not be toxic. Such misunderstandings tend to encourage error, errors that we all pay for regardless of faction or party.

As a fairly recent example I’m thinking of the foolish adventurers of a few years ago who were caught at arming the Bloods and Crips with assault rifles (2000 AK-47s were seized) and who apparently had plans to ship in heavy weapons later.

I wasn’t fond of Clinton and strongly criticized a lot of what he did. For example, I think his health care reform bill would have ended up killing an awful lot of people and destroying one of the most advanced health care systems in the world. At my most critical, I don’t think I’d ever question his basic humanity and would reserve my strongest criticism away from foreign ears during his administration.

September 9, 2005 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

I don’t frivolously call Karen Hughes a whore. It took a lot of hard work on her part to earn the title. Callling her “not human” is simply a reference to her tendency to answer all questions like a machine, automatically spewing out lies and talking points. I am only one of many to refer to her in this way. It’s entirely justified. Ask just about anyone in the White House press corps – I assure you, they will tell you I am being generous. I suspect Tucker would be delighted with my post.

I guess you haven’t seen how health care costs are tearing this country apart. Clinton’s plan, while perhaps imperfect, was on the right track, and had it been accepted and worked on might have saved the US from a lot of grief.

September 9, 2005 @ 8:41 pm | Comment

>>especially when such criticism is likely to be read abroad.

You should really get a job with the Chinese Communist Party, because you hear this same line from them everyday.

>>There has always been a tradition in the US that criticism of the government was muted in overseas venues.

What the fuck is an “overseas venue” exactly? Foreigners don’t read American newspapers? Or watch American movies, TV shows, or read American books? This was true 100 years ago, much less today. Also, there’s this new thing called the “internets.” Heard of it? I guess the entire internet is an overseas venue (shhh, the foreigners are listening to us!!!) Don’t “damage the image of the US” by criticizing the government. Again, you REALLY need to look into a job in communist government. Really.

Get a clue.

Next time I’ll be sure to use my decoder ring so the foreigners won’t hear me criticizing our glorious government.

For the record, I think the word “whore” was uncalled for.

September 9, 2005 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

Sorry, I meant it more in the sense of “media whore.”

September 9, 2005 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

Oh yeah, forgot to ask: is Karen’s new job in the Ministry of Truth?

September 9, 2005 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

She IS the Ministry of Truth. Rove is the Ministry of Love.

September 9, 2005 @ 11:22 pm | Comment

First Minister of Love: Karl Rove.
Second Minter of Love: Rove’s special friend Jeff Gannon.

September 9, 2005 @ 11:46 pm | Comment

Pardon my ignorance. Is Karen Huges that former cocktail waitress?

September 10, 2005 @ 12:09 am | Comment

Phooey, can’t connect to the ‘even more outspoken blogger’.

September 10, 2005 @ 12:48 am | Comment

“inevitable orgy of tit for tat”

This has been going on since 1994, at least (which was Year Zero of the Great Gingrich Cultural Revolution).

That’s when the Republicans decided to torpedo the Bipartisan Ship. It sank without a trace sometime during Clinton’s second term. And it’s never gonna refloat.

I know, I know… two wrongs don’t make a right — but why should we Democrats play by the old rules of civility and and cooperation, when the Republicans have so thoroughly abandoned them?

September 10, 2005 @ 4:22 am | Comment

Link is working now, Lisa.

Vaaara, don’t you know we’re supposed to be docile and passive?

September 10, 2005 @ 6:11 am | Comment

Hahaha, I hope you are feeling well. The reason I’m laughing is I feel the same way as you do, but towards the Western Doctors. I would rather go to a Chinese doctor here in Toronto than a western doctor, because the western doctors (in Germany or Canada) they always just tell you to go home and drink a lot of water while Chinese doctors seem always can give you some medicine that make you feel that you are taking care of…

September 10, 2005 @ 2:30 pm | Comment

richard – When your job is to follow a script and resist your interlocutor’s attempts to drive you off your script, not deviating from the script is called “doing your job”. Never deviating from the script is called “doing your job very well”. Karen Hughes did her job, by all accounts, very, very well. Calling her inhuman for that is just not right.

The press corps doesn’t like her. Them liking her is not her job.

As for health care costs. I live it. My insurance deductible is $5000. I know exactly what’s wrong with our healthcare and what would likely happen to us if we were stupid enough to adopt a single payer system a la Hillary Care. It’s not pretty.

The unsolvable problem with US healthcare is that we have a whole bunch of subgroups in this country who are just plain stupid about how they treat their bodies. Most are poor, some are ethnic, and we get all sorts of oddball problems because of our acceptance of so many immigrants and our tolerance of so many illegal immigrants. Personally, I’d like to see the most open borders we can get away with short of national suicide but I’m not blind to the consequences for our mixed market/socialist health system.

The solvable problems are a divorce between ordinary care received and money spent, a socialized pay rate system based on the government Medicare reimbursement tables, idiotic tort rules which , for example, allow you to jack up your doctor’s insurance rates by 50% just by filing suit, and the WW II leftover of employer provided health insurance.

hmmmm – Just because the CCP uses that line as an excuse for their information control efforts doesn’t mean that there aren’t costs to broadcasting criticism abroad. The US tradition of self-limiting criticism abroad is much older than the PRC. If the US were to try to encode that social convention in law, I’d be very active in opposing it. There are times when all kinds of criticism are appropriate. That doesn’t mean that the old traditions are wrong or that they aren’t worth trying to keep alive.

Foreign venues are forums where you’re not surprised that a significant portion of your readership needs a scorecard to figure out the players when you’re talking US domestic politics. In such venues, it would be of service to supply the scorecard. If you’re reading the Chicago Tribune, you’re expecting inside baseball and references to the Daley dynasty aren’t taken literally. Here, I think it would be fair to PRC readers to explain urban “machine” politics and the multi-generational prominence of the Daley family in Chicago politics.

I never said that criticism should cease nor did I imply it. I was noting that there’s a tradition of civility in US politics that requires partisans on both sides to observe some decent limits. One of those has been not to pour forth bile filled essays on day one when a skilled person on the other side starts a new job. You’re supposed to wait until they say their first stupid/evil/incompetent/dishonest thing and then pounce. This goes for both sides and it is one of those little things that keeps us from physically assaulting each other over politics.

vaara – The great bipartisan ship long ago left the dock. Democrats dominated the House for four decades and their abuses were many. Gingrich and co. were a reaction to those abuses, not the start of them.

As for us already being in the age of tit for tat, believe me that the current administration is honoring a significant number of the old traditions. That’s why the GSA came up empty when they investigated the cut phone lines and other petty sabotage of the departing Clintonites. The Bush White House just didn’t keep records and so GSA dead ended. Bush was remarkably restrained by a number of Clinton policy bombs left at the last minute and never cooperated in investigations over the slew of last minute pardons.

Even in matters of the present disaster on the Gulf Coast, Republicans in office did not start off the orgy of finger pointing going on. They essentially were forced into it by the most remarkable slurs and accusations designed to dump all blame on them.

Republicans have an obligation to do better by the country and reign in their yahoos (as well as all of our own inner yahoo) during the next Democrat administration. Believe it or not, a lot of people on the center-right recognize that some of the Clinton pounding went overboard. The center-right needs to do better on civility but so does the center-left.

LivinginAmerica – Both Germany and Canada’s socialized health systems are under tremendous financial pressure and are on the verge of collapse. Canada’s SC has invalidated one province’s ban on private doctors because the public system was so bad that it was in violation of their Constitution guaranteeing access to health care. The Krankenkasse in the FRG are barely staying afloat and no longer are affording the level of care that Germans are used to.

These are the end-stage failures of 1st world socialized medicine. What’s needed is to change the US system to something more private, better, and with more heart for the weak and poor. It is possible.

September 10, 2005 @ 10:28 pm | Comment

Yes, because privatization and for-profit health care corporations have worked so well for America. Come on, we have, what is it now? 46 million people uninsured in the US? You know what the percentage of health care costs that goes to administrative overhead is in the US? Something like 40%. Know what it is in Canada? 12%. You want to talk about collapse? How about an emergency health care system that in many major metropolitan areas is on the brink of disaster, financially overburdered by the costs of dealing with the uninsured, to the point where trauma systems are literally on the verge of collapse. In Los Angeles, you’d better hope that you don’t get into a bad car accident south of downtown. You might have a problem getting timely treatment.

Every major American corporation is dealing with rising health care costs. It’s a huge crisis. It’s why you had businessmen like Peter Chernin, chairman of News Corp (yep, Murdoch’s company), out there campaigning for Kerry in the last election – health care costs are killing American businesses.

So what is it that you’re proposing, TM? Church-based medicine? Or what, exactly?

Why is it that any kind of common public service becomes “socialism” in your lexicon?

I find it fascinating that you are calling for greater civility in political discourse now that the Bush administration’s approval ratings are in the toilet and the American people are finally beginning to question the legitimacy of Bush’s politics of destruction. Gee, thanks a lot. Republicans tried to destroy Clinton over a blow-job – or more accurately, use that as an excuse to completely paralyze the functions of government. There is no way in hell that the Democratic response you are decrying comes close to the politics of personal destruction practiced by the Republican leadership in the last decade. To the out-and-out lies and slander practiced by Karl Rove’s machine – and on members of his own party – see John McCain in 2000, for example.

George Bush came into office promising to be a “uniter, not a divider,” and he has not given the 50% of Americans who voted against him anything in terms of compromises. He trashes the environment, lies his way into a war, appoints his cronies to positions for which they are unqualified, fires anybody who dares to criticize him, and refuses to admit, ever that he might have made a mistake. Where’s the “reaching out”? Where’s that moderate Supreme Court judge? Where’s the, “okay, let’s leave the Arctic Wildlife Refuge alone, cause drilling there isn’t gonna help our energy problems in the long run”? Where’s anything that shows he cares about what half of the electorate thinks?

You want greater civility? Then let’s see some independence from Republican office-holders. Let’s see a few of them repudiate the awful, wretched leadership and ideological extremism of the Bush administration. Until that happens, I will not ever trust a Republican politician again – and I’ve voted for some of them in the past. But no more.

As for the “orgy of finger-pointing,” I’m going to quote Jon Stewart here – when you have a lot of people complaining about “the blame game,” guess what? It’s usually their fault.

September 11, 2005 @ 3:02 am | Comment

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