The Vietnamization of Bush’s Vacation – New York Times

In another installment of blistering analysis Frank Rich writes of the Vietnamization of Bush’s Vacation. It’s an astute look at Bush’s stubborn refusal to face the reality of the dismal state of the conflict in Iraq. He’s just going to stay the course with his stay the course line, it would seem. Given he doesn’t have to get re-elected maybe he just intend to wait out the next three years. But as Rich points out the Democrats aren’t doing much better. One striking image stands out:

If there’s a moment that could stand for the Democrats’ irrelevance it came on July 14, the day Americans woke up to learn of the suicide bomber in Baghdad who killed as many as 27 people, nearly all of them children gathered around American troops. In Washington that day, the presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a press conference vowing to protect American children from the fantasy violence of video games.

In another collusive fantasy the Pentagon is marketing the memorial of September 11:

The marketing campaign will crescendo in two weeks, on the anniversary of 9/11, when a Defense Department “Freedom Walk” will trek from the site of the Pentagon attack through Arlington National Cemetery to a country music concert on the Mall. There the false linkage of Iraq to 9/11 will be hammered in once more, this time with a beat: Clint Black will sing “I Raq and Roll,” a ditty whose lyrics focus on Saddam, not the Islamic radicals who actually attacked America. Lest any propaganda opportunity be missed, Arlington’s gravestones are being branded with the Pentagon’s slogans for military campaigns, like Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Associated Press reported last week – a historic first. If only the administration had thought of doing the same on the fallen’s coffins, it might have allowed photographs.

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24 Season 4

Jack Audrey Heller Driscoll

The synergy between news and entertainment was apparent in the Australian premiere of season 4 of 24 tonight.

The first episode begins with a train bombed and derailed by terrorists, then, cross to the first ad break: a news update which leads with the latest on the London subway bombing.

The double episode ended with the usual promo for next week with the announcer urging us to tune in to see “what lengths the terrorists will go to”. After the credits Seven led into an extended news update which included footage of London’s mayor Ken Livingston catching a train and a “back-to-work-we-wont-let-them-win” theme.

The dialectic between the visceral build up of tension produced by the “live” structure of 24 and its hero’s inevitable triumph is mirrored in the contrasting message of terror and hope embodied in a grim-faced Livingston boarding a train. Although 24 plays the traditional hero myth it also re-wrote the rules of this serial genre by allowing the death of key figures such as Jack’s wife in series one. We know that Jack will win but we can no longer be sure at what cost.

Similarly the news is constantly telling us that “we” will win even though we can no longer be sure “what lengths the terrorists will go to”.

Other news included John Howard’s denial that Britain was preparing a withdrawal from Iraq which would necessitate Australia sending more troops but a confirmation that Australia would be sending further troops to Afghanistan. This reminder of the nexus between Australian, British and US military operations highlighted the “reality” of the 24 terrorists claim that this was an “us” (muslim) against “you” (western nations) battle.

In this new world the best we can do is get up and get back on the train. Just like Livingston. Just like Jack.

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