Monday, November 21, 2005

Polling Propaganda

If you post on a Yahoo message board, and perhaps many other message boards, that President Bush is polling very poorly, you will inevitably be told that Republican politicians, and in particular Republican politicians occupying the Whitehouse, are not concerned with polls and don’t really care what they say.  And isn’t that exactly the problem?

And does it really matter if Bush is concerned with his poll numbers?  Is the point of mentioning the polls supposed to be that Bush is worried about them, or is the point supposed to be that he’s unpopular and that people don’t approve of what he’s doing?  I assert it’s the latter; and if Bush isn’t worried about them, then this is yet another thing he’s doing wrong.  It means that he doesn’t care whether or not he’s doing his job.  For most people, this is a sign of lazy contempt, and would suggest that they are unsuited for their job.  Republicans have made it a virtue; at least in Bush’s case.

But this is more than just a matter of Bush ignoring the voices of dissent (while perhaps listening too well to the voices in his head).  This is about the propagandic mindset of the conservatives.  For us, we mention the poll numbers because it emphasizes how out of touch Bush is with America, and how he’s on the wrong course.  And I’ll admit that there might be a touch of gloating about it all.  But overall, we think the polls speak for themselves, which is to suggest that Bush is wrong and in trouble.

The Message

But that’s not what they hear at all.  What they hear is anti-Bush propaganda.  And what they’re telling you is that they’re ignoring the propaganda, and that it’s not working on Bush either.  And that’s just how they think.  It’s not about the facts or the truth.  It’s about the facts and truth that you choose to use.  And if you choose to cite facts which make Bush look bad, then you’re doing so in order to convince people to drop their support for him.  And even more so, that you’re trying to undermine him.  For them, that’s the importance of this news.  Not of what the news itself says, but what we do with the news and the message that we’re sending.

I’m not suggesting that these people don’t believe the poll numbers to be true (though that may be part of it).  But propaganda doesn’t have to be fake; propaganda just means that you’re promoting certain facts to achieve a certain agenda.  It’s about rousing your team, and disheartening the other team.  That’s all that matters.  And in this case, they think our specific purpose is to convince them to drop their support for Bush.  And they think that, were Bush to care about the polls, he’d be disheartened and really start screwing up.  I’m not exactly sure how he can screw-up any more than he has, but I’m afraid to find out.

Think of them as political Freuds.  For them, a poll is never just a poll; but rather a deep and meaningful insight into your political psyche.  It’s all about self-fulfilling prophecies; people saying things in order to make them come true.  And so you’d only say the things that you want to happen.  The only reason you’d mention Bush’s lousy poll numbers is because you’re a “libtard” intent on driving those numbers down further, to destroy Bush.  Equally, the only reason you’d mention the problems in Iraq is because you want to make those problems worse and hurt America and/or Bush.  That really is how they think about things, and how they make their own reality.  

And if they don’t think we’re outright propagandists, then they assume that we’re latent propagandists who aren’t even aware of the propaganda that lurks deep within our subconscious.  But in either case, it’s obvious to them where we’re going with this stuff, and that it’s against America and/or Bush.  And frankly, I suspect they consider the second to be worse than the first.

Posterboys of Propaganda

And they believe this, solely because it could have these effects; from a propaganda point of view.  Even now, we’re told that Congressman Murtha’s recent statements on withdrawal make him “the posterboy for Al Jazeera”; as if a US Congressman really should self-censor himself, simply because an Arabic news org might quote him.  As if we all need to put on a happyface and lie, simply because the terrorists might hear about it and get discouraged; as if they didn’t already know what’s going on in Iraq far better than us.  As if they’re scouring the Yahoo message boards looking for any encouraging news about their endeavors.  Even now, I can hear Zarqawi relishing the news.  “Look guys!  Gator122571 doesn’t think we should be tortured.  He even got three rec’s.  Hoorah!  Hoorah!  I’m very encouraged!  Suicide packs for everyone!”  Or something like that, I’m sure.

And should we assume that this means that Bush and the others are also self-censoring?  As if Bush grouses in private about what a shitfest he started, and that he’d just love to tell us all about what he did wrong there; if only it didn’t encourage the terrorists.  Geez, I’d hate to see how badly things would be going if they weren’t censoring themselves.  Al Jazeera would run out of posters to put them all on.

Interestingly enough, I just checked Al Jazeera’s website, and Murtha is not currently a posterboy; nor do they have his name anywhere on their homepage.  And for irony’s sake, the main story they have related to this has Rumsfeld suggesting that Murtha’s call for withdrawal would “strengthen US enemies and embolden terrorists”.  So even Al Jazeera reports this kind of stuff; though they did not quote anyone as saying that he was their posterboy.  Additionally, the point of the story is Rummy saying that we won’t be withdrawing troops until Iraq is ready; so I guess their propaganda is relatively fair and balanced, as this is the same story that Fox has.  Then again, my Arabic’s a bit rusty (ie, nonexistent), so I was limited to reading the English version.  I’m sure the real version is much more inflammatory, including the Bush pictures with devil horns.  It’s all propaganda with those people, isn’t it?

The Right Message

And so when they tell us that they don’t care about the negative polls, it’s not just them putting on a happyface, or them ignoring the truth, or even them saying that they really don’t care about polls.  No, they’re telling you that your propaganda isn’t working, and that you might as well not even bother.  That’s not at all true, as they hate the polls as much as we would (had Clinton ever polled so badly); but the message they want to send is that they don’t care and that you shouldn’t either.  Similarly, the whole uproar over Murtha is intended to send the message that Dems shouldn’t act as Murtha has.  The Republicans’ concern is not about whether the terrorists get the wrong idea, but that the Dems will get the right one.  

Of course, had Murtha said these things two years ago, he’d have been attacked in order to put his seat at risk; and they’d hope he kept saying more.  Things are so bad for them these days, they’re attacking him just to keep him and the others quiet.  Their attacks on him are really coded propaganda in either case.  But the propaganda isn’t intended to stave off terrorist attacks or save American lives; but solely to save the GOP from the ruin they’ve brought upon themselves.  But it’s really all they’ve got left; to hope that the Dems can’t take advantage of the situation and regain control of Congress.

I had a decent ending to this post, but I can’t find the good tie-in from the last paragraph, and it’s late, so I’m just ending it with a quote.  The Carpetbagger post I cited above had such a good closing line that I decided to steal it, even if it’s not particularly relevant:
Remember, when you talk to God, it's prayer.  When God talks to you, its schizophrenia.

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