The Spin Machine

Andrew F. Adams is a regular contributor. Respond at [email protected]

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Sunday night, approximately 15,000 U.S. troops moved into Fallujah and started the battle for the city. This is the city of anti-American riots where the mutilated bodies of our dead soldiers are paraded through the street. This will be block-by-block, house-by-house fighting in an intense, maze-like city where Americans have no real friends.

And this offensive comes four days after the president signaled the end of the 2004 election by declaring victory.

Well, sure, you say anyone with any brains would wait until the voting is over to send American boys into a shit-storm. No candidate needs graphic, disturbing reminders of their handiwork to grace the covers of every U.S. newspaper and news magazine. I'm sure that if we had gone into Fallujah two weeks earlier, a few more people would begin to question what kind of a "success" the Iraq war really is.

But the president didn't just wait until after the election to move in Iraq. In mid-October, the federal government reached what is called the debt ceiling, which is a cap on debts that can be accrued by the nation. Now, although the president has asked for and received a heightened ceiling three times already (most recently $984 billion in May 2003), the administration needed to do it again.

However, asking Congress to give you more money to pay off debts looks pretty bad for a president up for re-election, so he put off the vote until mid-November and borrowed the balance from the civil service retirement system.

And this was just the most recent example. Earlier this summer, while the Food and Drug Administration was taking steps to regulate what cattle could be fed in an attempt to hamper mad cow disease, the Bush administration, along with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, lobbied the FDA hard enough to delay their decision and possibly kill any new restrictions. They are finally making a decision this month. Weeks afterward, the NCBA broke with tradition and endorsed a candidate for president: President Bush.

Later in the summer, the FCC set hearings on how large and monopolistic radio and television companies could become, but set them for after the election.

This may be in part to take some heat off Secretary of State Colin Powell for getting his son a job on the commission, but also to keep from reminding U.S. citizens that the president is tied to Clear Channel, News Corp. and other media outlets that would love to control every channel you watch.

Again, the Bush administration extended the comment period on a national forest proposal, which postpones the decision, until November 14. Under this Clinton-era rule, 60 million acres of national forest would be protected from logging and mining interests.

Seems simple, to keep mining and logging companies out of our national forests, right? But not for the president.

The spin machine was working at full capacity leading up to Election Day. Firing on all cylinders, Bush was re-elected because he swept the dirt under the carpet and left embarrassing decisions for later. He obscured the truth on the economy, the environment and, most of all, Iraq.

According to a poll taken two weeks before the election, half of those who supported President Bush believed that the United States has found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and also has established a clear connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. These beliefs are false; they were fostered in the run-up to the election.

And this is not by accident. The president and his cronies used lawyerly language, broad linkages and obfuscating arguments to drive home their point to voters. These are dirty, shameless tricks that would put even former President Nixon to shame.

But should we expect anything less from the Karl Rove all-stars? The answer is no, because this administration and his re-election machine proved that no lie was too great-no misconception too overt and no sleight of hand too dubious. The whole thing stinks, and it will take a while to get clean.


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