Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Not Just Bad, Evil, Wrong, Misguided...

It's Unacceptable X 3

The Chicago Tribune runs a blog post on just some of the things that Bush has found, and cited as, "unacceptable" in the past few years.

It's clearly one of his favourite words, and it's a powerful choice. No doubt courtesy of Karl Rove, a master of words and a visionary when it comes to using the power of a phrase or just a single word to exert power and influence on the human mind.

By calling an act or situation or environment "unacceptable", President Bush casts a moral judgement and appears ready to act, to change the situation, to make the unacceptable into acceptable.

By the use of this single word, Bush gives a powerful impression that he is already working to rectify the problems he has cited as unacceptable.

Below are some of the multitude of events, situations, environments and political positions that Bush has deemed worthy of being anointed with one of his favourite words.

Taking a shot at promising to lower the shocking murder rate in the United States :
"...this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it. " - May, 2001.
Hurricane Katrina's federal government relief efforts were unacceptable.
".... many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans. And that is unacceptable." September 23, 2005
Violence in the Middle East, then and now, so bad it get the triple treatment :
"We will continue to work with the international community to make it clear that some of the behavior in the Middle East is unacceptable. The development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. Harboring terrorists, or providing safe haven for terrorists is unacceptable.'' - February 17, 2005
"...there is terror on the one hand and hopelessness on the other, and that's unacceptable.'' - June 26, 2002

"We reaffirm our unequivocal condemnation of all terrorist acts, considering terrorism and any form of violence an absolutely unacceptable means for achieving political goals." - May 24, 2002.

The situation on the ground in Iraq clearly is unacceptable all over the place.
, " September 2004, the terrorists and insurgents had basically seized control of Tal Afar. We recognized the situation was unacceptable." - March 20, 2006
Even before the war began.
"...when it comes to confronting the growing danger posed by Iraq's efforts to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction, the status quo is totally unacceptable." - September 14, 2002.
Iran thinking about nuclear weapons was worth three unacceptables in one sentence.
"...the idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, and it's unacceptable to the United States and it's unacceptable to nations we're working with in the United Nations to send a common message.'' - October 27, 2006.
North Korea thinking about nuclear weapons was unacceptable in 2001 and 2002.

North Korea threatening to test nuclear weapons in 2003 was unacceptable.

When North Korea actually tested a nuclear device?
"...the proclaimed actions taken by North Korea are unacceptable and deserve an immediate response by the United Nations Security Council.'' - October 29, 2006.
The violence spreading through Africa?
"...genocide in Sudan is unacceptable.'' - April 28, 2006
Same sex marriage? Unacceptable.

Low quality schooling in the United States?
"...that's unacceptable. It's unacceptable to the Mayor, it's unacceptable to the City Council, it's unacceptable to Peggy, it's unacceptable, most importantly, to the parents." - July 27, 2003.
The word has always been there, littering Bush speeches and press conferences like an old familiar safety valve. Which is, of course, exactly what it is.

It was in one of his first speeches as president, on February 12, 2001, talking to American soldiers at Fort Stewart about the poor state of their pay, their housing and their equipment :

"This is not the way a great nation should reward courage and idealism...It's ungrateful, it's unwise and, it is unacceptable.''

And it tripped from his lips only last week, during the televised address to nation on the state of the Iraq War :
"The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me,''

Saying this or that is unacceptable is acknowledgement of a problem and veiled promise of coming rectification. Even if the promise is to a fix a problem that doesn't exist. Like Saddam threatening the United States with weapons of mass destruction.

Bush uses the word "unacceptable" like a weapon. A political blowtorch to cut through the muck clinging to the most important issues of the days.

But, his favourite word is also much more than that. It is a one word summation of the most famous call-to-action, dread-threat from his father, former president George HW Bush, who said of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 :
"This aggression will not stand."
But Bush's word is faster, clearer, more concise, and it trumps his father's most quotable quote.

George W. Bush and Karl Rove knew from the dark days of the shattering loss suffered by the old man to Bill Clinton in 1992 that the former president had been seen as weak, as wishy-washy, as indecisive and, God forbid, a flip-flopper.

The marketing of the 2nd Bush Presidency, from the day it began to the day it dies, had to be one that was templed on strength and decisive action, following from decisive words.

That the words "Bush" and "weak" had formed an association in the minds of the American public in 1992 was just one of the many elements of his father's presidency that the son clearly found, well, unacceptable.

Bush's plans for Iraq, for Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, for improving medicare and social security and school education may all be faltering, or failed, but Bush will continue to keep the language strong.

So you will be hearing many more "unacceptables" from the president in 2007.

Unfortunately, the greatest use of the word will probably be found in conjunction with discussions on the violence of Iraq and the weakness and instability of the democratically elected Maliki government.

A commenter on the same blog points out one important "Unacceptable" the writer missed, from a September 15, 2006 press conference :

"If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. I simply can't accept that. It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective."

This is one of the many occasions in 2006 when Bush stated, not so clearly in the above, that he finds certain beliefs and thoughts as unacceptable as deeds and actions, particularly when it comes to terrorism.

When the thoughts inside a person's head become targets in the War On Terror, then we have truly gone into the land beyond the beyond.

And yet, thought crimes are already becoming a reality in the United States. A hate speech bill has already been drafted and circulated and the Democrats are finding much support from Republicans to get anti-hate speech legislation passed.

It remains to be seen whether or not the global War On Terror will allow crimes of opinion and belief to be pursued as enthusiastically as physical acts of terrorism.

Does this mean the Coalition of the Willing will eventually be pursuing acts of psychological terrorism?

Some days, when Bush talks about the "evil ideology" and "the ideology of evil" it appears as though we are already doing exactly that.

Go Here To Read The Chicago Tribune Story