“How’s your boy?” asked Mr. Bush.
“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” replied Mr. Webb, whose son, a Marine lance corporal, is risking his life in Mr. Bush’s war of choice.
“That’s not what I asked you,” the president snapped. “How’s your boy?”
“That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President,”
That's an exchange between the new Senator from Virginia, James Webb, and the leader of the free world, excerpted from Paul Krugman's Monday column in the Times. It's certainly representative of the nasty, mean-spirited arrogance that we have noted in this Bush administration time and again here. I also hope it's representative of the character of the 110th Congress to come. Mr. Webb, I think the people of Virginia made a very, very wise choice.
More cause for muted celebration (muted, that is, while we await hearing who's next): Bolton is out. Bush and Co., of course, blame it all on the Democrats, though the opposition to Bolton was led in part by a GOP Senator, Lincoln Chaffee. I call this response a "mind-jerk reaction." Knees, of course, are made to bend; but the Bushian mind is made from reinforced concrete: as Stephen Colbert has observed of him, on Wednesday he will spit the same rhetorical spin as he spat on Monday, no matter what happened on Tuesday.
It is a recognizably corporate habit of perseveration: you have your Message, which is inscribed as indelibly and immutably as the Ten Commandments themselves, and no force of events or public opinion will change the Message (unless, of course, there is sufficient profit to be made from the revision). The Message appears in identical form across every public relations and advertising venue available to the corporation, and all that P.R. isn't cheap. Any refutation or disavowal of the Message, the Plan, and its proven value proposition, will meet with the same bitter and infantile reaction that Bush delivered to the media on the occasion of the Bolton resignation.
So it's not merely that corporations have, as Terry McKenna pointed out last week, bought the government; they have also infected it with their own peculiar model of fear-based conformity. Believe and repeat, and you will be retained, maybe even rewarded. Question or criticize the corporate Message, though, and you will be fired, ostracized, browbeaten, or otherwise punished. That's the way it works.
Well, maybe those are realities of work and politics that we just have to accept. But it goes further than that—in fact, it goes right into our daily lives, even into our family, personal, and individual psychological lives. Yes, I'm saying that the game of corporate conformity actually gets inside our minds, whenever we allow it to.
As Terry suggested last week, it derives from our false use of language. Whatever is wrapped in the stiff forms of corporate verbiage infects our relationships—our professional and personal relationships, and even our relationship with ourselves; the interactions amid the diverse functions of the personality.
It is, I suspect, a pervasive danger of our time. Later this week, we'll also hear from the author of our banner quote, who was delivering a similar warning some 50 years ago. Until then, I would merely ask you to just pause to consider how the corporate model of conformity and intimidation may have seeped into your life, into your relationships, into your mind. There are, incidentally, some very effective ways of getting it out, which we will discuss in future posts.
As for the government, we are very familiar with the currently prevailing delusion: dissent is an alliance with the terrorists; departure from the Message is "stubborn obstructionism" (Bush's characterization of those who thought Bolton was not the greatest choice for an Ambassador); and the slightest departure from the FOX News script of mute conformity is treason. To reverse that trend, we will have to be involved: one place to start is with UFPJ's Voters for Peace Pledge (see the graphic in the sidebar). There are petitions, call-in events, and local campaigns all across the nation and the world wide web: here's one.
We will also need more of our new and existing members of Congress to speak out as James Webb did—clearly, adamantly, and straight into the face of Power.