Fanatics in the White House
Maybe Karl Rove has moved his office into the "Matrix." Maybe Laurence
Fishburne is auditioning for Ari Fleischer's job. Maybe it's all just a
bad dream: "The White House Reloaded."
A White House Fluent In Language Of Fanatics
By Arianna Huffington
I've been racking my brain, trying to reconcile the ever-widening chasm
between what the White House claims to be true and what is actually true.
After all, we know the president and his men are not stupid. And despite
the tidal wave of misinformation pouring out of their mouths, I don't
believe they are consciously lying.
The best explanation I can come up with for the growing gap between their
rhetoric and reality is that we are being governed by a gang of out and
The defining trait of the fanatic -- be it a Marxist, a fascist, or, gulp,
a Wolfowitz -- is the utter refusal to allow anything as piddling as
evidence to get in the way of an unshakable belief. Bush and his fellow
fanatics are the political equivalent of those yogis who can hold their
breath and go without air for hours. Such is their mental control, they
can go without truth for, well, years. Because, in their minds, they're
always right. Oopso facto.
That pretty much sums up the White House m.o. on everything, from the
status of al-Qaeda to the condition of post-war Iraq to the magical
job-producing virtues of the latest round of tax cuts.
Who else but a fanatic would have made the outrageous claim, as the
president did last Friday, just four days after the deadly reemergence of
al-Qaeda in Riyadh, that "the United States people are more secure, the
world is going to be more peaceful"? More peaceful than what? The West
In the weeks before the attacks in Riyadh, the president had repeatedly
maintained that "we are winning the war on terror," and that al-Qaeda was
"on the run... slowly, but surely, being decimated." So he clearly wasn't
going to let a little fact like 34 dead bodies -- the result of three
closely coordinated suicide bomb attacks -- change his mind.
He was similarly unperturbed by that troubling new report from the
International Institute for Strategic Studies, an influential and
non-partisan British think tank -- released a day after the Riyadh
bombings and three days before the president proclaimed us "more secure"
-- which found that al-Qaeda was "just as dangerous" and "even harder to
identify and neutralize" than it was prior to 9/11.
And just 4 hours after the president strapped on his trusty blinders and
delivered his rosy vision of a more peaceful world, the tranquility was
shattered by the five simultaneous suicide blasts in Casablanca. Oh well,
at least we still have the upcoming Jessica Lynch TV movie to make us feel
good about ourselves -- give or take a few last minute rewrites by the
The president's evidence-be-damned fanaticism is equally apparent when it
comes to the state of post-war Iraq. "Life is returning to normal," he
proclaimed just two weeks after the fall of Baghdad. "Things have settled
down inside the country."
Really? Just who is preparing his morning briefing papers? Pollyandy
Card? Little Condoleezza Sunshine? Did he bother consulting any Iraqis
about "normal life" there? Probably not. One of the keys to being a
flourishing fanatic is to surround yourself with those of a shared -- and
equally deluded -- mindset.
And according to that mindset, the definition of "settling down" can be
expanded to include rampant looting, sporadic water and electrical
service, hospitals in disastrous condition, outbreaks of cholera and
dysentery, streets filled with uncollected garbage and raw sewage, half a
dozen ransacked nuclear facilities, missing barrels of radioactive
material, growing anti-American sentiment, and disparate ethnic and
religious groups arming themselves. No wonder Don Rumsfeld called the
media's reporting of all this "an overstatement." It's just another
"normal" weekend at Camp David.
And don't bother trying to make the case that everything isn't hunky-dory
in Baghdad to rabid acolytes such as Jay Garner. Like the president, the
demoted viceroy doesn't care what the facts indicate -- to him even a
looted and punctured glass can be half-full. "We ought to be beating our
chests every day," he said, dismissing the notion that any of us should
feel bad about the problems besetting Iraq. "We ought to look in a mirror
and get proud. We ought to stick out our chests and suck in our bellies
and say, 'Damn, we're Americans.'" That's sure to win us some more
goodwill around the world. Hoo-rah, and pass the Kool-Aid, General Jay!
And if you think the president is saving his fanaticism only for the
international sector, think again. His dogged devotion to selling his
latest round of tax cuts for the wealthy as a "jobs creation plan" --
despite an avalanche of evidence that it will do nothing of the sort --
proves that he can be just as fervent on the home front.
"Jobs are on the line," said Bush after the Senate passed its version of
the tax cut. "I call on Congress to resolve their differences quickly so
I can sign a bill that will help create jobs, boost take home pay and spur
economic growth." And for those with "...illionaire" as part of their
economic description, it probably will.
It obviously makes no difference to the president that 10 Nobel Prize
winning economists have condemned his tax cuts as "not the answer" to high
unemployment, or that a new Congressional Budget Office study found that
the "jobs and growth package" will actually have very little effect on
long-term growth. Not interested. Not listening. The 1.4 million jobs
the White House repeatedly says the tax cuts will create are more a matter
of a fanatic's faith than of dispassionate forecasting.
The fact is there are now 2.1 million more unemployed Americans than when
Bush took office -- the vast majority of them having lost their jobs after
the president's initial $1.3 trillion tax cut was passed in 2001.
Difficult evidence to ignore -- unless "ignore the evidence" is your
A popular definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over
again while expecting a different result. Well, that seems to be the
White House theory on the power of tax cuts to produce new jobs: It
didn't work before; let's try it again.
Welcome to the D.C. Matrix.
Arianna Huffington is the author of "Pigs at the Trough: How
Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining
America." For information on the book, visit
If you have questions or comments, contact Arianna at
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Arianna's column is syndicated nationwide by Tribune Media Services.
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