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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Office of Michael Chertoff's Gut

Truthiness poster

When Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert did a monologue at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2006, it was a hilarious demonstration of the ridiculousness of right wing talking points. Needless to say, the president wasn't in on the gag. Colbert demonstrated the difference between 'laughing with' and 'laughing at' by engaging almost entirely in the latter. The absurdism of President Bush's supporters and the laziness of the press were nailed dead.

The next year's dinner featured impressionist Rich Little, who many were surprised was still alive. He poked fun at such topical subjects as Richard Nixon and TV dinners. The Correspondents Dinner was a yawn-fest but, for the president, it was safe as nerf.

Listening to the news, I was reminded of this bit from the opener of Colbert's monologue:

Mark Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, Madame First Lady, Mr. President, my name is Stephen Colbert and tonight it's my privilege to celebrate this president. We're not so different, he and I. We get it. We're not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say "I did look it up, and that's not true." That's 'cause you looked it up in a book.

Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works. Every night on my show, the Colbert Report, I speak straight from the gut, OK? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the "No Fact Zone." Fox News, I hold a copyright on that term.

Yeah, you can see why Bush would have a problem with that. One Bushie who seems to have forgotten Colbert's routine is Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. After having this tough guy 'gut check' game shown to be ridiculous crap, Chertoff has cited his gut in a new warning about imminent al Qaeda attacks on the US.

Chicago Tribune:

Fearing complacency among the American people over possible terrorist threats, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday that the nation faced a heightened chance of an attack this summer.

"I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk," Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune's editorial board in an unusually blunt assessment of America's terrorist threat level.


Chertoff said there were not enough indications of an imminent plot to raise the threat levels nationwide. He indicated that his remarks were based on "a gut feeling" formed by previous patterns of terrorist attacks, recent Al Qaeda statements and intelligence he did not disclose.

The truthiness of Chertoff's warning is obvious. His gut tells him we've got to be on the lookout, so we'd just better. Who needs some sort of evidence or any facts? We've got Chertoff's gut and that should be good enough for anyone.

This new terrorist threat warning from the Office of Michael Chertoff's Gut couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that the president is losing even GOP support for the war in Iraq. Sen. Richard Lugar has bailed on it and now Sen. Pete Domenici has followed suit. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that dems are talking about legislation that would force combat to end by 2008. And the fact that public support for the war has hit a record low is probably only coincidental.

The media's memory seems to only go back about one or two months, on average. Reading through that Tribune story, there's no mention of the way the administration jacked terror alert levels up and down during the 2004 presidential campaign. If John Kerry was getting bad press, then the terrorist threat level went to yellow and the media would cover Kerry. If Bush got bad press, the threat level shot up to 'completely freak out!' and the media cover the 'new terrorist threat.' If Chertoff's gut check reminds you of 2004 propaganda, it only means you've been paying attention.

Other truthiness is out there. In his 2007 State of the Union, President Bush told us, "Iraq's leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks -- to achieve reconciliation, to share oil revenues among all of Iraq's citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life, to hold local elections, and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province."

And now, benchmarks don't really mean anything -- mostly because the iraqi government hasn't met a single one of them. Apparently, benchmarks are a conceptual thing.

On the surge, Bush told an audience in Cleveland yesterday, "We just started and (already) in Washington, you got people saying stop" -- despite the fact that his surge started in January. I guess the president didn't check a calendar; he keeps time with his gut.

While Bush's war and his poll ratings continue to circle the drain, expect more of this. As Colbert said, "Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in 'reality.' And reality has a well-known liberal bias." So no more of this pansy-assed living in reality. We've got a war to fight. A war with reality. Either you're with the president or you're with reality. Take your pick.

You can support Bush, you can support reality, but you can't support both.


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