Here’s the ‘ganda machine at work, visually speaking, in the photo from the Roosevelt Room at the White House, where the TV cameras were called in to televise an unusual live radio address by the Bullshitter-in-Chief. Although it is cropped, below, as used by The New York Times on its Web site (and downplayed in a secondary position), the full shot appeared huge above the fold on the front page of The Times print edition.
Needless to say, the photo shows Teddy “Rough Rider” Roosevelt in the background and the “Tough Talker” in the foreground. You don’t think the Bullshitter’s placement was accidental, do you? His handlers no doubt wanted to borrow TR’s glamour, and that photo is one way of doing it, although all it really does for us is re-inforce the imperial image of U.S. power and show how tin-eared the Bullshitter’s handlers can be. Hasn’t he been trying to soft-pedal imperial ambitions in Iraq?
(Sidenote: We’ve mentioned ROUGH RIDERS AND TOUGH TALKERS before, when Tucker Carlson paid tribute to The Weekly Standard’s neoconnery and the bottomless war-mongering of its editor, William Kristol.)
The Times story itself, headlined “Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying,” notes the Bullshitter’s “public confirmation … of one of the country’s most secret intelligence programs.” It also makes a striking historical comparison:
His admission was reminiscent of Dwight Eisenhower’s in 1960 that he had authorized U-2 flights over the Soviet Union after Francis Gary Powers was shot down on a reconnaissance mission. At the time, President Eisenhower declared that “no one wants another Pearl Harbor,” an argument Mr. Bush echoed on Saturday in defending his program as a critical component of antiterrorism efforts.
Not mentioned is that Eisenhower at first denied the U-2 flights, which proved to be the worst diplomatic blunder of his presidency. He only made his admission after the Soviets paraded Powers in front of cameras, along with the wreckage of his U-2. But never mind. Who wants another Pearl Harbor? We don’t.
In his statement on Saturday, Mr. Bush did not address the main question directed at him by some members of Congress on Friday: why he felt it necessary to circumvent the system established under current law, which allows the president to seek emergency warrants, in secret, from the court that oversees intelligence operations. His critics said that under that law, the administration could have obtained the same information.
In fact, as The Times reiterated in today’s lead editorial:
The intelligence agency already had the capacity to read your mail and your e-mail and listen to your telephone conversations. All it had to do was obtain a warrant from a special court created for this purpose. The burden of proof for obtaining a warrant was relaxed a bit after 9/11, but even before the attacks the court hardly ever rejected requests.
So, the editorial bluntly asserts, the Bullshitter’s justification for the illegal domestic spy program — that officials “sometimes need to start monitoring large batches of telephone numbers” before the special courts can act — “is nonsense.”
As to his “hotly insisting he was working within the Constitution and the law, and denouncing The Times for disclosing the program’s existence,” the editorial concludes, “this White House has cried wolf so many times on the urgency of national security threats that it has lost all credibility. But we have learned the hard way that Mr. Bush’s team cannot be trusted to find the boundaries of the law, much less respect them.”
Or as noted in a reader’s shorthand in the postscript to VICTORY-IN-IRAQ DAY: “So what’s next, ARBEIT MACHT FREI?”
— Tireless Staff of Thousands