The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Bush: The man behind the curtain



Quick! How many zeros does a trillion have? Let’s see, there six in a million, nine in a billion, so that means there are 12 in a trillion.

Now multiply that by two and you have the number that Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate, professor of Economics at Columbia University and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to President Clinton and chief economist and senior vice president at the World Bank, has estimated the Iraq war will end up costing.

That’s a far cry from the $50 billion former Undersecretary of Defense – neocon war hawk and architect of the Iraq war – Paul Wolfowitz estimated in the early days of the war. And for that gross pecuniary miscalculation, Bush nominated him to be the president of the World Bank.

I don’t know about you, but I sleep better knowing that the man who oversees lending to third-world countries was off by 400 percent. Or is it 4,000? I get lost when counting so many zeros.

While we’re on the subject of trillions, Bush blissfully signed a bill last week that increases the debt ceiling to $9 trillion dollars. That’s the amount that America is allowed to borrow from foreign governments to stay afloat.

You see, all the talk about a booming economy comes with a big, fat, $9 trillion caveat. The government is in hock up to your great-great-great-great-great – get the picture – grandchildren’s eyeballs. Don’t be fooled by the near-record NYSE. Things are going well (for some) because the government is pumping someone else’s money – mostly China’s – into our economy.

Bush and Republican congressmen are acting like crack addicts who found someone else’s debit card with the pin number written on the back. The more money they can suck out of First Bank of China’s ATM, the more crack they can buy. And like most crack addicts, the last thing they’re worrying about is what happens when the ATM keeps the card.

But you’re not supposed to think of that. In fact, you’re not supposed to think. While you’re at it, don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

For the uninitiated, that’s a reference to the Wizard of Oz. Remember when Dorothy finds out that the Wizard isn’t really a wizard, rather an ordinary man standing behind a curtain pulling a bunch of levers? That’s the Bush presidency.

Rather than worry about paying back $9 trillion, Bush would rather have you think about all the good things happening in Iraq.

Pay no attention to the 56 people killed on Wednesday. Pay no attention to the death squads that are acting within the police force and the military that we are spending billions of dollars and thousands of lives training.

And, please, whatever you do, don’t pay attention to the former interim Prime Minister of Iraq, Dr. Iyad Allawi, who, in spite of being handpicked by the Bush administration, said this week, “If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.”

Because the man behind the curtain – who said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – says it’s not a civil war. Dick Cheney – who said 10 months ago the insurgency was in its “last throes” – says it’s not a civil war. Donald Rumsfeld – who said we only needed 30, 000 troops to get the job done – says it’s not a civil war. Only defeatists say it’s a civil war. Because in the Bush if-I-say-so-it’s-so world, it’s not a civil war unless one side wears Union blue, and the other side wears Confederate gray.

Just like he says the Iraqi city of Tal Afar is a model of accomplishment. To hear him talk, the word democracy is rolling off the tongue of every Iraqi living in the northern city of 200,000. That is when they aren’t singing, “I’m a Yankee-doodle-dandy!”

The reality, of course, is that the town’s inhabitants have said that since U.S. forces allegedly rousted al Qaeda, secured the city, and personally delivered Jeffersonian democracy, compliments of George W. Bush (or was that George M. Cohan?), al-Qaeda has re-infiltrated Tal Afar, and the townspeople fear retaliation for having collaborated with American forces.

The man behind the curtain would also like you to not pay attention to the nightly news, which, according to Bush, only shows the bad, saying, “for every act of violence, there is encouraging progress in Iraq that’s hard to capture on the evening news.”

What progress would that be? Two to four hours of electricity a day? Twelve-hour lines to buy gasoline? Hospitals that turn away people who have a less-than 80 percent chance for survival because there aren’t enough supplies and equipment?

The point is – in case it got lost amidst my sarcasm – the new Rovian drumbeat (or is it the same old one?) of attack-the-messenger is now being banged out against the media.

And if the blame-the-media-for-the-president’s-failure number doesn’t work, try the-media’s-coverage-of-all-the-violence-is-giving-aid-and-comfort-to-the-enemy bit. That one always works – or so they think.

The same meme is being parroted by Bush cheerleaders and all-around lapdogs – e.g. Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and Ingraham – who have all become to sing in the same shrill-to-the- point-you-want-to-cut-off-your-ear-faster-than-you-can-say-Van-Gogh chorus.

No, ladies and gentlemen, don’t look behind the curtain. Don’t watch television. Just close your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears, because if you don’t hear it or see it, in Bushland, it’s not $9 trillion dollars you have to pay back, it’s $9 trillion worth of crack. Did I say “crack”? I meant crap.


George Henson is a Spanish lecturer. He may be reached at [email protected].

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