Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The World’s Largest Focus Group

It’s a common mistake among arrogant power-mad world leaders to “mis-underestimate” the influence of public opinion on the course of history. Only Bush could shrug off the crowds of this past weekend, and compare them to “ a focus group.” Only Bush could say that he “respectfully disagrees” with the anti-war stance of so many abroad and at home, as though his opinion was merely an opinion, and not actually bound up in policy.

The “focus group” remark is even more laughable when one considers last week’s orange alert duct tape fiasco. Poor Bush. No wonder he distrusts focus groups.

Still, all kidding aside, it is indeed alarming that Bush has no concept of what it takes for people get mad, get organized, and get out there. This isn’t exactly news. The man was probably the only president in history whose inauguration attracted more protestors than attendees. My guess is that Bush’s thought process has always involved a good deal of denial. This is why, in spite of blogging myself hoarse against the war, I’m more or less sure that nothing short of divine intervention will change his mind.

Ari’s words on the subject of the protests are even more baffling.

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer began his daily briefing by reading newspaper clips about demonstrations against the staging of missiles in Germany in the early 1980s, and said, " "This is not the first time there have been mass protests and in a previous instance America stood on principle ... and as a result the Berlin Wall came down.”

Say what? The Berlin Wall came down because we deployed missiles? Are we sure about that? I always thought that the Berlin Wall fell because the governments collapsed and the people rose up in protest. Am I wrong? Was not the rise of democracy in Eastern Europe a triumph of the will of the people over military threat? Isn’t that why we protest now?

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