Paul Krugman is a regular columnist for The New York Times. I have no way of knowing, but I imagine that he is paid well for what he does. And he should be.
For Krugman has taken on his shoulders the near-impossible task of exposing all the endless misrepresentations and lies of Bush and Bush’s cronies in the government and mass media. Indeed, the deliberate barrage of lies that spew from the Bush propaganda machine come so fast and so furious that some days Krugman must feel like Sisyphus, the Greek mythological figure, who is eternally condemned to roll a block of stone up a steep hill only to have it roll back down to the bottom each time he reaches the top.
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry correctly accuses Bush of “colossal misjudgment” in invading Iraq. And nobody with an open mind would disagree with him. Iraq is a mess and getting messier, as occupations inevitably do. But I would add — and Kerry has intimated this as well — that this “colossal misjudgment” was rationalized from the very beginning and continues to be sustained by a dense tissue of lies that envelop and deeply penetrate every aspect of the entire Bush-led imperialist enterprise in Iraq and elsewhere.
Most, if not all, presidents have lied and misrepresented facts on one or another occasion to advance their own political agenda — Truman to rationalize the shameful and unnecessary dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Johnson to escalate the military aggression against the Vietnamese people, Nixon to cover up the Watergate scandal, and Reagan to hide his administration’s drugs-for-arms deals and dirty wars in Central America.
But what distinguishes the Bush administration is that it does nothing but lie. It is not only the master of war but also the master of deceit. Lies are the religion of this administration. Its representations of reality are so far off the charts that some political analysts have suggested that Bush and his advisers — not to mention Fox News — have constructed an alternate political universe in which they live and make policy, while others say that Bush’s utterances have brought us to the doorstep of an Orwellian world in which black is white, up is down, and a growing Iraqi resistance to occupation is but a tempest in a teapot.
Now if Bush were, say, the village idiot in Crawford, Texas (a role that he could easily and convincingly fill with no prep), his uninterrupted stream of deceit and deception would be of little, if any, consequence. But he isn’t. He’s an idiot to be sure, but for now he occupies the White House, not a village, and he surrounds himself with a stable of neoconservative advisers whose lies are calculated to justify policies and actions that do enormous damage to people in our country and worldwide.
That’s the bad news. But this story has a silver lining. The false representations of reality that were deliberately constructed by Bush’s ideological thugs — and that unscrupulously preyed on the understandable fears and insecurities of the American people — don’t resonate with the same force across our country as they once did.
Thanks to the good sense and democratic instincts of Americans who are able to discern real facts from Bush’s fictions in Iraq and elsewhere, thanks to the millions who opposed preemptive strikes and unending wars, thanks to the grassroots activists who are registering and educating voters in the battleground states, thanks to the worldwide resistance to Bush’s agenda of world domination, thanks to the presidential debates, and — let’s not forget — thanks to the courage and clarity of Paul Krugman and many others, including in this newspaper, who have demolished with their pens the misrepresentations of the Bush administration, the emperor is more and more without any clothes and is steadily losing ground to Kerry as the election enters the home stretch.
I am not Paul Krugman, nor do I desire to put words in his mouth, but if I were him, I would remind my readers of the aphorism of Abraham Lincoln, the last good Republican president, who said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
Sam Webb is national chairperson of the Communist Party USA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.