03 July 2005

- The Law of Genre -

I especially enjoyed this paragraph from Frank Rich's column in the New York Times this morning:

Mr. Spielberg's [War of the Worlds] illuminates, too, how Mr. Bush has flubbed the basic storytelling essential to sustain public support for his Iraq adventure. The president has made a tic of hammering in melodramatic movie tropes: good vs. evil, you're with us or you're with the terrorists, "wanted dead or alive," "bring 'em on," "mission accomplished." When you relay a narrative in that style, the audience expects you to stick to the conventions of the genre; the story can end only with the cavalry charging in to win the big final battle. That's how Mr. Spielberg deploys his platoons, "Saving Private Ryan"-style, in "War of the Worlds." By contrast, Mr. Bush never marshaled the number of troops needed to guarantee Iraq's security and protect its borders; he has now defined "mission accomplished" down from concrete victory to the inchoate spreading of democracy. To start off sounding like Patton and end up parroting Woodrow Wilson is tantamount to ambushing an audience at a John Wayne movie with a final reel by Frank Capra.

I've often said that Rich makes some of the most trenchant criticism of Bushworld because he was for so many years a drama critic.

I missed this bit of polling that Rich cites:

Last week an ABC News/Washington Post survey also found that a majority now believe that the administration "intentionally misled" us into a war - or, in the words of the Downing Street memo, that the Bush administration "fixed" the intelligence to gin up the mission.

And likewise this poll, which I again missed:

The Wall Street Journal reports that the current war's unpopularity now matches the Gallup findings during the Vietnam tipping point, the summer of 1968. As the prospect of midterm elections pumps more and more genuine fear into the hearts of Republicans up for re-election, it's the Bush presidency, not the insurgency, that will be in its last throes.

It strikes me that we shouldn't let the SCOTUS fight distract us from pounding on Iraq, which,as Rich notes, may indeed be the way to weaken the president sufficiently that the centrists will feel they no longer have anything to gain from supporting the president and the dems won't get characteristically skittish. If Specter has his way and really waits until until September to hold hearings, this may well be doable—and the conservatives know it.