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October 31, 2005

Comments

I don't disagree with much of what you write, but I wonder if your perception of "one of 9/11's legacies may [being] dishonest, PR-driven presidential style of governance" is a function of a genuinely unique quality of this administration, or merely a matter of your own ox being gored? (which, mind, is not a criticism of you)

My own perception is that the party out of power *always* believes the latest administration is reaching new heights of corruption, dishonesty, PR-mania, etc. This is partly a function of the political/PR need to raise the bar of outrage, and partly a function of the increasingly efficient information age. 30-some years ago, we had to wait for the morning papers and the evening news to hear about Nixon's latest travesty. Beginning in the 90s, and increasingly today, we can hear about every little item in great detail, at great length and from hundreds of sources.

So, really, has the character of the Presidency changed, or has our relationship with it? I'm curious to know your opinion.

Yeh, I am much more sympathetic to explanations that go, "Reagan invented television, then Clinton invented rapid response spin control, then Bush invented Ultra Spin."

But I hope it was 9/11, then maybe the Ultra Spin won't work so well for the next President. You know some norms that get broken, like the President discussing what kind of underwear he wears, don't get broken by the next president because he's a different kind of guy. So maybe the next one will be more of an evader or a forgetter instead of a tape-recorded spin message.

Jon, we address this question at great length in All the President's Spin, so I would refer you there. While previous presidents have been dishonest and used PR, the Bush administration really has broken new ground in terms of its use of systematic, PR-driven dishonesty about public policy -- ie the issues that affect real people's lives. We demonstrate this in excruciating detail.

"has the character of the Presidency changed, or has our relationship with it?"

The answer is both. I think it would be incredibly disingenuous not to acknowledge the abhorrent depths to which Bush's steroid (money) enhanced PR machine has sunk in order to further the conservative agenda.

However, there has to be a willing public to listen to their lies and distortions for it to be effective.

The public's general lack of interest in politics and atrocious inability to understand big-picture issues (that do not involve sex, drugs, or prayer) coupled with the pervasive decline of education in this country is equally to blame.

Do I believe that the Bush era PR machine is worse than any other? Yes. Because, I also strongly believe that many Bush policies have purposely helped push the decline of education along in favor of "faith". For Bush PR to be successful, he NEEDS stupid, ignorant, and uncurious people to follow him. Sheep. Rove knows this all too well. He and his ghouls engineered a brilliant, if not devious, PR policy that taps into the general ignorance of the American public.

Curious minds are not so easily swayed by inane rhetoric.

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