In The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, a seminal social-science book that’s a de facto primer on effective political communication, sociologist Erving Goffman gives a great deal of thought to how people show themselves to the world, viewing all forms of human interaction as a kind of managed drama. "When the individual has no belief in his own act and no ultimate concern with the beliefs of his audience," he writes, "we may call him cynical..."
and I think that does a good job of articulating the political definition, what you mean when you say that Bush or the GOP or the RWNM are cynical.
Why did we go through that exercise in defining our terms? Because I am cynical (classic definition) enough to believe that the aforementioned Current Administration is cynical (new definition) enough to have the endgame for the war in Iraq all figured out NOT to maximize stability in the Middle East, NOT to minimize lives lost, NOT to best smooth the transition to a self-governing democratic power, but instead to maximize political gain in an election year. By which I mean: I listened to a lot of General Petraeus' report and I listened to a lot of commentary on that report and I've read a lot of different opinions on pull-out strategies and things. And people talk about shit like "staying the course" vs. "bring our boys home" vs. "the surge has been successful" vs. "the surge has been a failure" vs. blah blah blah and you know what?
I don't think that what the Bush Administration will do vis-a-vis sending troops there or bringing troops home has anything at all to do with the actual current on-the-ground situation. I think it has to do with next year's ELECTIONS AND THAT'S IT.
I think that the administration has a detailed plan to "bring our boys home" on a schedule that is precisely calculated to maximize voter approval and nothing else. I think that troops will start being sent home in greater and greater numbers as the elections get closer simply because that will make voters happy, (while ending the war and/or bringing them home now would cause an upswing in popularity that won't last long enough to maximize outcome at the polls). Right now Bush can keep saying we're staying the course and doing whatever is necessary for victory blahblahblah and then in six months say "you see, we stayed when it was right to stay even against pressure not to stay, and NOW that it's the right to leave we're going to leave"... we're so strong, we believe in what's right not just what the crazy liberals are pressuring us to do, we know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.... see how great we are, we're bringing the boys home now because now is the right time... and all of this to MAXIMIZE VOTES, almost completely without regard for what is actually happening in Iraq. That's what I think is going to happen.
It's perfect. What can liberals or Democrats say when they get what they want, what they called for? "Thanks, Mr. Bush," meekly? How can they complain when that happens? The rug will have been swept out from under their righteous indignation, the Republicans who stuck by Bush even when inside they were doubting can put on their smuggest faces and their I-knew-it-all-along buttons and our next president will be More Of The Same, leaving the Democrats wide-eyed in the dust crying, "How did this happen?"...
[editor's notes: a) i almost never write or talk about politics, so don't expect much like this, thank god and b) i wrote this two weeks ago and didn't post it because i had already posted six things that day or whatever and c) since then i've only become more convinced there is a strategy for pull-out on an election schedule, not a war/life/peace schedule. i'm very nearly cynical enough to believe some kind of terrorist or war event is actually scheduled to occur or be allowed to occur to maximize political gain in the presidential race, but i'm scared to admit that. maybe there's a terrorist plot that the administration already knows about but is letting go on longer so that they can swoop in and save us at a more politically opportune time? that way no one has to actually die for it, specifically... ok, enough, back to your irregularly scheduled doses of the vagaries of the life of RDB.]