Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fool's paradise

When fellow nimrods Rick Santorum (R-Pa) and Peter Hoekstra (R-Mi) sallied forth with claims that, while the DoD had apparently overlooked their own classified inventories of Iraqi munitions, they had indeed found the WMD that no one in the Pentagon or the White House had noticed. Not that they went to Iraq, mind you, but Santorum and Hoekstra had instead found listings of "chemical weapons" US forces had unearthed in 2003. The DoD had immediately disavowed the claims of the brothers tweedle. The weapons were old, degraded and unusable, many dating from the 1980's, back when the US used to sell Hussein those weapons, perhaps one of the reasons why the documented inventories were classified in the first place. It might be more than a tad embarrassing for such things to into the hands of Hussein's defense attorneys.

At the time, I had called the intrepid congressmen, "Dumb and Dumber," mostly because they looked ridiculous in claiming that they had found WMD when neither the Pentagon nor the White House had bothered to mention this grand discovery. But the ploy was transparent enough: faced with a big voter boot kicking him in the ass this November, Santorum is about as desperate as a pol can be and that charade demonstrated that he would grasp at almost any straw.

Unfortunately, I discounted the play that Fox News and other media wonks would subsequently engage and Santorum's and Hoekstra's WMD invention appears to have had the intended effect. A Harris poll conducted two weeks after the WMD grandstanding and subsequent wild-eyed trumpeting at Fox News, ably led by the inimitable Hannidate, has shown that fully 50% of the American public once again believes that US forces found WMD in Iraq. This is up from 36% a year ago.

In fact, once Sean Hannity grabbed the Santorum/Hoekstra story, he shook it silly, admonishing both the media and the Bush administration for ignoring "what was the the biggest story in the lead-up to the [Iraq] war." Credulous FoxNews viewers were not expected to wonder why the White House would ignore such a story. Giving credit where credit is due, though, Sean Hannity's hair also wondered this, though it appeared to have no answer and apparently choose to ignore the obvious and clearly stated reasons. Nonetheless, Hannity (or his hair, I'm not exactly sure which one is in charge there) pounded away and further claimed that the Democrats "were wrong when they call the president a liar everyday." The Fox/Hannity drumbeat went on for days, inundating anyone within earshot that WMD had been found, the Iraq war was now fully justified, we're right, they're wrong, hooray!

The Harris poll has, to some degree, presented us the results of this blatantly false hype and with it, a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of the Republican noise machine.

I guess I'm the one who's the dummy, here. But then, Michael Massing appears to be frightfully clueless about American cluelessness:
I'm flabbergasted. This finding just has to cause despair among those of us who hope for an informed public able to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence.
Good grief. Where has this guy been? An informed public? In America? Half this freaking country think the earth is six thousand years old.

Lincoln was correct, you cannot fool all the people all the time. But modern politicians don't need to. Backed by a sufficiently noisy information spectrum, fooling about a third of them is often more than sufficient.


Post a Comment

<< Home