Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Rumsfeld and the War on Bad Press

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, explained the lack of US success in the war on terror. It seems Muslim extremists have better PR flacks.

In another example of a tried and true Bush administration tactic, Rumsfeld reasons that the media war needs to be fought better in order to win the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide.

It couldn't be policy, an illegal war, torture, disregard for the UN, unilateral arrogance, hypocrisy, or anything else. The reason much of the world views the US with such disdain could never lie at the feet our our national leadership. That is preposterous. Anyone who thinks otherwise is aiding terrorists and is no patriot.

Rumsfeld believes that better public relations messaging via the global media will help things along. He also reminded people that the negativity of the US media is an additional aid to terrorists.

What is most interesting about Secretary Rumsfeld's misguided assertions is how they reveal so much about the Bush administration's thinking. Never focus on substance, only message. Divert all attention from reality to image presentation. It matters little what the underlying policy is, as long as the selling of it is done right.

The Bush administration was able to get the Secretary of State in front of the entire world with a bunch of fake photos showing chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The results of that lie have been tens of thousands of deaths and a completely destabilized Middle East. Still, the messaging continues.

Notice has been served on multiple occasions to the American news media: you are too negative about the war. Pounding this message makes sure the American consciousness picks up on it. The reality becomes irrelevant. When the media tries to dig for more information, they are accused of a liberal bias. Toeing a jingoistic propaganda line is what the current administration believes the press should do.

A final note: the Bush administration spent 1.6 billion taxpayer dollars over 30 months on public relations. Despite this, Bush's poll ratings are now negative in 40 states, and appear in a free fall. Maybe your message just isn't getting though, Mr. Secretary.

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