December 19, 2003

I'll Stop Calling the Bush Administration "Orwellian" When They Stop Using 1984 as an Operations Manual, Part LXXII

I'll stop calling the Bush administration "Orwellian" when they stop using 1984 as an operations manual. Mark Kleiman writes about our modern Ministry of Truth:

Mark A. R. Kleiman: The White House memory hole is a bottomless pit: There seems to be absolutely no limit to the sheer effrontery of Team Bush's effort to cover up the astounding incompetence that leads to its pattern of miserable failure.

This is funny, but it's also serious. Republican government rests on accountability, and accountability depends on the existence of honest records of the past. The real horror of Nineteen Eight-Four isn't Room 101; it's the memory hole, and the denial of the independent standing of objective fact as against "the Party line," or, as it's now called, "the spin." The habit of futzing with official websites so as to "edit" the past ought to be recognize as an issue of Constitutional significance, and it probably ought to be made criminal.

(Note to Democratic Senators, especially Messrs. Kerry, Edwards, and Lieberman: A rider on the White House appropriation might be a good legislative venue; the House leadership could and would keep such a proposal from ever coming to a vote, but it's not so easy in the Senate.)

It's a miracle--and a bad one--that things like this haven't convinced the grownup Republicans that Bush is unelectable.

Posted by DeLong at December 19, 2003 05:22 PM | TrackBack


Unelectable? Bush's approval rating is still above 50% and the polls show that people would still reelect them.

To call Bush unelectable is wishful thinking. If the recovery starts to look like an actual recovery in the next 10 months, his chances look pretty good.

Posted by: rps on December 19, 2003 07:11 PM


it's a googlebomb. join in the fun! at the very least, try not to be a weenie about it.

more seriously, Bush's reelect numbers are not strong; don't conflate them with approval. cf where you'll see a post-Saddam bump -- that takes his reelect number from the low forties all the way to the high forties. for insight into the likely course of those reelect numbers now that Hussein is in custody and citizens start reading actual news again, cf (a multipoll sideways xmas tree).

I'll put what little 'net credibility on the line now and predict the Democratic ticket (Dean/X?) beats Bush/Cheney by 3-5% -- solidly, but not by a landlside.

I could be wrong -- but at least I'm not a weenie.

Posted by: wcw on December 19, 2003 08:13 PM


rps said: To call Bush unelectable is wishful thinking.

You're right. Bush is electable as hemlock is edible. You put it in your mouth, chew, swallow...

Posted by: Jesse on December 19, 2003 08:21 PM


But to return to brad's point, the sheer effrontery of the email (which doesn't stop with accusing clark of being in europe when saddam was captured but also accuses him of fundraising for left-wing bush-hatred) is yet another indicator of exactly what they're going to do, writ large, with the $200M. Every now and then, an honest conservative or an old-fashioned moderate republican notices an absence of clothes for a moment, but i wonder if they will ever actually acknowledge nakedness as the operative condition?

Posted by: howard on December 19, 2003 08:34 PM


oops - that was actually meant for the "republican scum" posting. sorry.

Posted by: howard on December 19, 2003 08:37 PM


Cute title! (although the Part LXXII is getting a bit old...)

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on December 19, 2003 10:07 PM


The follwoing passage is from the White House web page that Brad links to (

"George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. He was sworn into office January 20, 2001, after a campaign in which he outlined sweeping proposals to reform America's public schools, transform our national defense, provide tax relief, modernize Social Security and Medicare, and encourage faith-based and community organizations to work with government to help Americans in need."

So 'owdidhedo on his promises?

Posted by: Bulent Sayin on December 19, 2003 11:13 PM


Ah! But Mr. Bush had an excuse for not having fulfilled his campaign promises. The following comes from the same White House page:

'"The attacks of September 11th changed America - and in President Bush's words, "in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment." President Bush declared war against terror and has made victory in the war on terrorism and the advance of human freedom the priorities of his Administration. Already, the United States military and a great coalition of nations have liberated the people of Afghanistan from the brutal Taliban regime and denied al Qaeda its safe haven of operations. Thousands of terrorists have been captured or killed and operations have been disrupted in many countries around the world. In the President's words, "our Nation - this generation - will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail."'

But Afghanistan was really no obstacle to keeping campaign promises -- after all, how much did Afghanistan cost?

And the White House page makes no mention of Iraq, which is the true wallet-killer.

Or is this a problem of web page updating / editing again? Orwellian style, according to Brad Delong? Is Mr. Bush going to say soon to Americans and the rest of the world things like this:

"Beg your pardon? Iraq? What is Iraq? Where is Iraq? What happened in Iraq?"

Posted by: Bulent Sayin on December 19, 2003 11:34 PM


good title, except for the part part

Posted by: Hans Suter on December 20, 2003 02:09 AM


While you are over at Whitehouse,gov, be sure to check out the holiday page. This year's installment of Barneycam, a film done from the President's dog's perspective, provdies an unitentional satire on the Bush Administration (it has a Karl Rove cameo). Also, John Snow's reading of Olive The Other Reindeer is bound to become a holdiay classic.

Posted by: Charles Kinbote on December 20, 2003 03:54 AM


The party line is that Saddam's capture (the only thing we have to show for $166 billion, 460 dead,
1000's of mutilated young Americans, the need to care for 25 million impoverished wards, ...) has made us "safer". This is asserted simultaneously with the news that new terror threat warnings have gone out, and Al-Zawahiri's voice has been identified on a threatening videotape.

What's worse, why would Lieberman and Kerry buy into this Orwellian distortion of reality, and make Bush's case for him?

Posted by: BobNJ on December 20, 2003 09:25 AM


Consider the Orwellian use of the phrase "peace and prosperity" (Bush, in triumphalist Saddam capture news conference):

Peace - A war Bush started continues unabated.

Prosperity - 3 million jobs have been shed, and the economy is making only fitful progress toward restoring a fraction of them.

Posted by: Bob H on December 20, 2003 09:35 AM


BobNJ writes:

"What's worse, why would Lieberman and Kerry buy into this Orwellian distortion of reality, and make Bush's case for him?"

Don't trust politicians. Under representative democracy, they all work for capitalists as far as the bottom line is concerned or else they get eliminated from political process, or at least they get sidelined.

Don't trust direct representative democracy any longer. The justification that "our system is not perfect but that's the best we got" is no longer valid.

There is direct democracy.

America has technology, productivity, education levels (and the basic moral strength, as far as I know) to be able to make a transition to direct democracy (as well as collective ownership of capital, i.e., pension funds, etc.).

Go for direct democracy!

And thus lead the world once again.

Right now, America is not leading.

America at this time is acting unilateral.

And that ain't sustainable.

Posted by: Bulent Sayin on December 20, 2003 11:30 AM


The real horror in 1984 was room 101, not the memory hole. Russians were a lot more concerned about spending a night in the basement of Lubyanka then what might have been redacted from government records. I think Kleiman misreads (assuming he has actually read it) the symbolisms in 1984.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on December 20, 2003 03:57 PM


The real horror in 1984 was room 101, not the memory hole. Russians were a lot more concerned about spending a night in the basement of Lubyanka then what might have been redacted from government records. I think Kleiman misreads (assuming he has actually read it) the symbolisms in 1984.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on December 20, 2003 04:02 PM


Speaking of Orwellian conditions of living? Check out this, if you will, where they list 15 precautions to make it through airport security with minimum wear and tear on you:

One of the precautions recommended is to slip your driver's license in a transparent pouch and hang it around your neck!

The last item of recommendation is to be prepared for problems!

There is gotta be a better way. Why not develop international standards on air passanger identification, dressing, and luggage?

Posted by: Bulent Sayin on December 21, 2003 03:09 AM


Jesus, Zarkov, besides being a right-wing hack you're dumb as a stump. The memory hole wasn't about "redacting from government records". It was about destroying all trace of history, even recent history, and removing all alternatives to the official lie of the moment.

Trolls are plot functions like the villains in SF stories. It's useless trying to fuigure out their motives or reasons. Flinging lame shit is what they're for.

Over on Atrios people are explaining that no one should make a big deal about the odious Strom Thurmond's sensitive family history. How insensitive Democrats are.

Posted by: Zizka on December 21, 2003 11:55 AM


The missing USAID web page went from me to Calpundit to Atrios to Milbank, I think, starting in early November. Alas, Calpundit thought I wanted my tipoff letter to him anonymous, so now I have nothing to show my family that hours of Internet a day could get me my 15 minutes.

Posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on December 22, 2003 01:34 AM


Post a comment