This week President Bush gave the go ahead to “Operation Save My Presidency.” The “operation” comes after a series of attacks by media pundits who questioned his relatively low profile during last week’s strikes against Condeleezza Rice and the debacle over his Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB). With the violence in Iraq escalating — April has become the deadliest month since the war began — the president launched two major offensives this week as part of his “operation” in an effort to save his role as the leader of the free world and boost his approval ratings.
Ever mindful to avoid launching a direct attack too quickly, the first installment came in the form of NBC’s Sunday evening movie “Homeland Security” which offered a portrayal of how the U.S. government and intelligence officials handled the tragedy of Sept. 11 and the aftermath. With little pomp and circumstance in the way of publicity for the movie, this sneak attack quietly entered and exited the night so as to maintain respect for the Easter holiday.
Of course, no proof exists as to the actual involvement of the Bush administration in this “operation” except that Republicans tend to have exceptional stealth-like technique when it comes to influencing the media. After all, CBS decided not to air the supposedly biased movie about Reagan’s life last year or the MoveOn.org ads during the Super Bowl after an uproar from the right.
Furthermore, there are other small indicators that call into question their involvement in this “covert operation.” First of all, the timing to air the movie could not have been more perfect with the barrage of controversy surrounding pre-Sept. 11 intelligence. Perfect timing has become a trademark of the Bush administration. Remember the secret trip to Baghdad that was perfectly timed to coincide with Thanksgiving? Moreover, when one of the characters claims the government knew about the possibility of hijackings, but not the use of planes as missiles, he echoes the testimony of National Security Advisor Rice and previous responses from administration officials who have stated the exact same thing. But wait, there is more. The movie’s focus on the search for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan attempts to act as a distraction from the reality of the crisis in Iraq. Finally, big business and the media have become synonymous with five corporations dominating the industry, and we all know that big business overwhelming contributes to Bush.
For all these reasons, it is not unreasonable to suspect that when Bush was not too busy vacationing at his Crawford ranch, he found the time to schmooze in Hollywood or New York with certain media executives for the implementation of this “operation.” However, since this indirect attack failed miserably with rather lackluster ratings, President Bush decided to mount an open attack with his Tuesday prime-time evening press conference and speak openly to the American public.
Stepping behind the podium, President Bush spoke in an articulate and resolute manner. He assured the American people that the War in Iraq was a just cause and his administration would stay the course. In his excellently executed responses to the well-pointed questions from reporters, he reminded America that he would have done everything in his power to stop Sept. 11 had he known about it, placed the United States as a member of the global community when he stated the need to maintain our credibility and work with the United Nations, and utilized history to recall the difficulties that come with gaining independence and being an occupying force. All made for a brilliant and well-written speech, but this second wave of “Operation Save My Presidency” has already met with contradiction much like the operation in Iraq.
During his speech, he adamantly claimed that the analogy of the war in Iraq to the war in Vietnam was “false.” Yet, he stated that the war in Iraq was a “theater of the war on terrorism,” and the war in Vietnam has been referred to as a “theater of the war on communism.” So much for the lack of analogy; within a span of 10 minutes, the credibility of “Operation Save My Presidency” diminished.
Of course, the Bush administration has dealt with credibility gaps in the not too distant past, and my guess is that if American confidence isn’t restored, the next launch of attacks will be in the form of “Operation Find Osama, Create More Jobs, Save the Environment, Fund No Child Left Behind, Cut the Budget Deficit, Provide Health Care for the Millions of Americans Without It, and Restore our Relationship with Foreign Leaders.” We must not forget that there are many issues besides the war in Iraq with which to judge President Bush, and unless he becomes master magician in the next six months, he will be executing “Operation Find a New Job.”
Alicia Washington is a junior in Trumbull College. Her column appears on alternate Thursdays.