Although liberal bloggers and others are doing a masterful job of deconstructing the White House’s lunatic comparison of fascism to Islamic terrorism, they may be missing the larger political intent. The Administration is not really interested in creating an intellectual argument so much as linking, then exploiting a rich set of emotional associations.
I was interested in Digby’s point about how quickly the Administration was able to shift the narrative from Katrina to 9/11. Yes, because it’s the only car in Karl’s garage. And because it’s “early” yet (the 9/11 anniversary still being nine days off), I thought I’d highlight some of the groundwork being laid.
The key to the strategy — particularly “with the sound off” — is the stirring of the emotional pot. As a well-worn Rovian device, the left can’t help but contribute by latching onto the outlandish arguments and potentiating the buzz. (I don’t mean to say they shouldn’t. Part of cleverness involves the fact there’s no way not to confront the so-called intellectual argument.)
Overall however, when you find the MSM and the White House focusing on the same affective devices, high suspicion is called for. The visual emphasis from both quarters — after Bush’s strategically paranoid speech at the American Legion Convention — was how emotive Bush was.
The White House website was not so heavy-handed as to feature this dewy-eyed shot that AFP spread around. (I like this one also. Sorry about the size.) The more sublte “in house” shot had Bush looking ever so wistful. (At the same time, it was about the largest pic of Bush they’ve ever ran. Part of the “turn around” they’re looking for is to somehow restore Bush to a more respectable size.)
The most illuminating shot they ran yesterday, however, is the one above. The “revival meeting” narrative is as simple as it is blindingly redundant: We’re facing the enemy of a lifetime. We’ve got to pull together. The world hangs in the balance. Are you peace-lovin? Are you country-lovin? Are you feelin’ it?
And yes, this shot beats the pants off of it’s Clinton-Lewinsky cousin for uncomplicated seduction. Exploiting Bush’s shield of religiosity, all’s fair in love of war.
(image 1: Eric Draper/White House. August 31, 2006. Salt Lake City. whitehouse.gov. Linked image1: Tim Sloan/AFP. August 31, 2006. Salt Lake City. Linked image 2: Jim Young/Reuters. August 31, 2006. Salt Lake City.)