It has been a bad few weeks for Bush with discoveries startling enough to kill, or at least stun, a normal candidate. But there is nothing normal about Bush. He just keeps plunging ahead, grunting and gasping, like one of the undead.
We learned that Bush wears a radio device at important events. This fact alone could explain his strange plodding movements and words, a creature waiting, eyes blinking mechanically, for each new word in its ear to register before reacting.
I understand that the existence of a radio device has not been proved, but it takes a much greater stretch of the imagination than a radio device to explain the strange shape photographed on the President's back, and science always favors simple, clear explanations. Some of his legions of loyal followers in trailer parks across the nation likely favor the idea of a device grafted to his back by aliens -- this is a possibility I suppose -- but reason casts some doubt.
How easy it would have been for Bush to dispel the radio-device idea. He just needed to call a brief press meeting with the hump in place, removing his jacket to reveal how a wrinkled shirt could create the distinctive three-dimensional shape. It would have been a very effective demonstration, but I think we all know why he didn't try it.
I hesitate to suggest a drug-pumping device similar to that worn by dying cancer patients, but the damning revelation by Kitty Kelly that Bush was still doing cocaine during his father's term as President leaves one wondering. Genuinely-recovered addicts are not that common, and here was a man, a weak man, addicted to two drugs, alcohol and cocaine. I know the Good Lord can work miracles, but most experience suggests He lets humans clear up their own messes.
Perhaps Bush is on some kind of experimental methadone-like treatment. Yes, I know Kitty Kelly is not a serious biographer, but she is a tough investigative reporter against whom legal challenges generally fail. The public recanting by Bush's sister-in-law, the source of the story, means nothing because Kelly went over her notes with an editor after the original interview. She called the sister-in-law in the editor's presence and reviewed the points of her story, having them all confirmed as accurate.
The disappearance of a huge stock of high explosives in Iraq following the invasion -- enough apparently to fill about forty semi-trailers - was to say the least a rather unfavorable revelation. Please note there can be no doubt that Bush was aware of this cache which had been under close guard of UN officials, yet he took no measures to secure its safety during the invasion, any more than he did for Iraq's priceless cultural artifacts looted from museums at the time. Note also that analysis of the explosions that have been killing American troops surely reveals the stolen stock has been used, it being a distinctive and unusual explosive. Note, finally, that we did not learn of this dangerous event from Bush, but from that horrid organization, the UN.
Then we had the matter of a study in the Lancet from scientists at America's own Johns Hopkins University concluding that civilian deaths due to the invasion of Iraq were at least 100,000, half women and children. Lancet is Britain's best-known medical journal, and it does not publish rumors. It is peer-reviewed and highly regarded.
Of course, we have had no counts from the Pentagon of civilian deaths. An American woman's non-government organization made an effort to count deaths and came up with more than 10,000, the number most widely cited. Not long ago, an Iraqi group, people in a much better position to communicate and be accepted throughout Iraq, came up with the number 37,000, a number generally ignored in the American press. Now, we have a statistical study showing, at minimum, 100,000 civilian deaths.
So much for claims of pin-point bombing accuracy, although we should have all been conditioned to the utter falseness of such claims after the first Gulf War. I wish American journalists would in future insist that any Pentagon official making such claims publicly demonstrate them by having planes bomb dummy homes near one he or she is in on some military proving ground. We know this will never happen.
The fact remains that aerial bombardment is a crude weapon that always kills many more civilians than soldiers. The Pentagon favors it because pilots do not see the details of the terrible things they do and because many more ground troops would themselves be killed if it weren't for death from the skies. Clearly the Hitler idea of a terror weapon remains in the thinking of those who talk of "shock and awe." It has many home-town supporters, too, who enjoy full-color explosions and flames over dinner without the details of broken, mangled human beings. Oh, it's like being there, where real history is happening, only in complete safety from the couch.
Now, suddenly, just days before the election, we have Osama's Jesus-like face again appearing on every front page in the world. Who benefits from Osama's re-appearance? At first, you might say Kerry because the face is such a vivid reminder of Bush's utter failure. He didn't get the guy responsible for 9/11 (and from this tape we receive, for the first time, genuine evidence of Osama's involvement), but Bush sure managed to kill a lot of innocent people.
Almost certainly, the re-appearance serves Bush's interests, who for some unknown reason manages to hold a strong rating in polls narrowed to the specific issue of security. I know it's a mind-numbing puzzle, but the man who shirked duty in Vietnam, the man who went AWOL from the National Guard, the man who spent years frying his brain with alcohol and cocaine, the man who continued reading about goats after being informed of the strike against the WTC, the man who has created armies of America-haters with his insane war in Iraq is regarded as strong on security by Americans.
The only rational explanation for this phenomenon is that Americans sense Bush's psychopathic qualities and are re-assured by them at a time of absurdly-exaggerated fear. After all, I had Americans writing me seriously, after 9/11, that Afghanistan should be reduced to a chunk of radioactive glass. American fundamentalists' much-beloved Old Testament and Book of Revelations, not to mention the entire history of Christianity, overflow with such bloodshed and ravings. Were a poll taken in America about the idea of "just killing them all," I think the results might be painfully revealing.
Osama and the boys chose a critical moment to endorse Bush because they know four more years of his violent, incompetent arrogance does more damage to western interests than any attack they could hope to mount.
John Chuckman lives in Canada and is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company.
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