Craig Crawford’s Take on Frank Rich’s Account of George Bush’s Misinformation

I hope Craig Crawford is writing tongue in cheek, or at least with a feeling of obligation to be politically neutral, in his review of The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina by Frank Rich. The expected response to Rich’s book detailing the misinformation campaigns of the Bush Administration would be outrage. Instead Crawford almost commends Bush for his successful use of such strategies.

But while President Bush’s political gurus will likely quibble with certain items in Mr. Rich’s bill of particulars. . .they have every reason to gloat in response to this recitation of their tactical maneuvers. After all, so much of what Mr. Rich details –and deplores –worked well for the Bush White House, at least in winning the short-term gains they were seeking in each of the episodes presented.

This is like reading Orwell’s 1984 as a “how to” manual for would-be authoritarians. Come to think of it, considering the manner in which they use propaganda, perhaps they did. There are many examples of Orwellian propaganda which came from the Bush Administration reviewed in Rich’s book. Crawford pays particular attention to the Swift Boat Liars:

The truly cynical political operator, whether Republican or Democrat, could read this book as a manual for how to use deception, misinformation and propaganda to emasculate your enemies, subdue the news media and befuddle the public, and not as the call to arms for truth that Mr. Rich seeks to provide.

When he sets his jeweler’s eye upon the so-called Swift-boating of the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, for instance, future candidates for office get point-by-point instruction on how to turn a campaign liability into an asset: in this case how someone with no combat experience can successfully run on national security issues against someone who was actually shot on the battlefield.

Mr. Rich asserts that the Bush camp, “so brilliant at creating fictional stories for their own man,” managed to “create a fictional biography for Kerry” that offset the stories of his heroism as captain of a Swift boat in Vietnam, leaving the war hero “stripped of his medals–so that he would be on the same footing as a president whose Vietnam service consisted of sporadic participation in the Texas ‘Champagne unit’ stateside.”

The gambit of course worked. The president won re-election in 2004, thanks in no small measure to the seeding of doubts about one of Mr. Kerry’s major assets in that wartime campaign: his own combat record.

The claims of the Swift Boat Liars so clearly differed from all documented evidence, and were so thoroughly refuted, that only those blinded by extreme partisanship could not recognize these as outright lies. The Bush Administration knew that the Bush-worshippers in the blogosphere and right wing media would parrot their lies, on this and every other matter, regardless of the evidence. Too many people in the general public, bombarded by an endless stream of misinformation, are just too overwhelmed to check all the facts. Modern technology allows for many ways to both disperse both information and propaganda. Hopefully the information provided by people like Frank Rich will allow more to see through the propaganda, as opposed to being used as a source for ideas by future Administrations which desire to deceive the public.

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  1. 1
    Dave from Princeton says:

    None of it would ever work if not for the “liberal” MSM who repeatedly assist the right-wing echo chamber with all the GOP’s campaign tactics. It is all the GOP has had for years and the MSM thinks it is their job and duty to make sure all of it is always successfully and then of course bash the Dems for not being able to prevent.

    It is all the MSM cares about. How successful the GOP is using this crap constantly so they can then slobber over the GOP for being so successful at “politics” and message etc. As Craig displays with his admiration here.(and others like the king of admiration for GOP slime, BS, smears, propaganda and lies, Chris Matthews)

    It is way way past time when all Democratic politicians start calling the MSM on their blatant GOP partisanship. They have to start to do it always, every time!(even EVER would be an improvement at this point) And especially face to face when it is done to them directly on air.

    I don’t understand why so many(all) Democratic politicians act like they have to pretend it isn’t occurring. I guess wouldn’t want to anger the “liberal” MSM by starting to call them on some of their crap finally. I guess Dems are afraid the MSM would stop being “so nice” to them or they may stop being so “non-partisan” or give them a break once. Our guys have to get a tiny bit if an f’ing clue one of these days or just hang it up totally!

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Considering that the Republicans have been successful in criticizing the mainstream media for being liberal (reagardless of how much they’ve moved to the right) the Democrats sure should consider refuting this.

  3. 3
    Dave from Princeton says:

    It would be about time. They should have started fighting back about this long ago.

    Yes and the GOP will continue too. All of the “liberal” media could move to the right and GOP even past Faux, newsmax etc and they GOP and their reporters would still attack them for being liberal. They aren’t stupid, they know what works.

    As the great Stephen Colbert said during his bit at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, “The truth has a well known liberal bias”.

    Any unflattering truth or fact concerning the GOP that leaks out once in a while by part of the MSM, can quickly be discounted by the GOP, right-wing echo chamber and their moronic supporter as an obvious “liberal” biased media lie.

  4. 4
    Dave from Princeton says:

    BTW, from the “interview” on Fox News Sunday it seems old Bill is following my advice. 😉

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