“The White House Reloaded”

Welcome to the White House Matrix, where tax cuts bring economic miracles and Baghdad is happy and peaceful.

Topics:

Maybe Karl Rove has moved his office into the Matrix. Maybe Laurence Fishburne is auditioning for Ari Fleischer’s job. Maybe it’s all just a bad dream: “The White House Reloaded.”

I’ve been racking my brain, trying to reconcile the ever-widening chasm between what the White House claims to be true and what is actually true. After all, we know the president and his men are not stupid. And despite the tidal wave of misinformation pouring out of their mouths, I don’t believe they are consciously lying.

The best explanation I can come up with for the growing gap between their rhetoric and reality is that we are being governed by a gang of out-and-out fanatics.

The defining trait of the fanatic — be it a Marxist, a fascist or, gulp, a Wolfowitz — is the utter refusal to allow anything as piddling as evidence to get in the way of an unshakable belief. Bush and his fellow fanatics are the political equivalent of those yogis who can hold their breath and go without air for hours. Such is their mental control, they can go without truth for, well, years. Because, in their minds, they’re always right.

That pretty much sums up the White House m.o. on everything, from the status of al-Qaida to the condition of postwar Iraq to the magical job-producing virtues of the latest round of tax cuts.

Who else but a fanatic would have made the outrageous claim, as the president did last Friday, just four days after the deadly reemergence of al-Qaida in Riyadh, that “the United States people are more secure, the world is going to be more peaceful”? More peaceful than what? The West Bank?

In the weeks before the attacks in Riyadh, the president had repeatedly maintained that “we are winning the war on terror,” and that al-Qaida was “on the run … slowly, but surely, being decimated.” So he clearly wasn’t going to let a little fact like 34 dead bodies — the result of three closely coordinated suicide bomb attacks — change his mind.

He was similarly unperturbed by that troubling new report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, an influential and nonpartisan British think tank — released a day after the Riyadh bombings and three days before the president proclaimed us “more secure” — which found that al-Qaida was “just as dangerous” and “even harder to identify and neutralize” than it was prior to 9/11.



And just four hours after the president strapped on his trusty blinders and delivered his rosy vision of a more peaceful world, the tranquility was shattered by the five simultaneous suicide blasts in Casablanca. Oh well, at least we still have the upcoming Jessica Lynch TV movie to make us feel good about ourselves — give or take a few last-minute rewrites by the BBC.

The president’s evidence-be-damned fanaticism is equally apparent when it comes to the state of postwar Iraq. “Life is returning to normal,” he proclaimed just two weeks after the fall of Baghdad. “Things have settled down inside the country.”

Really? Just who is preparing his morning briefing papers? Pollyandy Card? Little Condoleezza Sunshine? Did he bother consulting any Iraqis about “normal life” there? Probably not. One of the keys to being a flourishing fanatic is to surround yourself with those of a shared — and equally deluded — mind-set.

And according to that mind-set, the definition of “settling down” can be expanded to include rampant looting, sporadic water and electrical service, hospitals in disastrous condition, outbreaks of cholera and dysentery, streets filled with uncollected garbage and raw sewage, half a dozen ransacked nuclear facilities, missing barrels of radioactive material, growing anti-American sentiment, and disparate ethnic and religious groups arming themselves. No wonder Don Rumsfeld called the media’s reporting of all this “an overstatement.” It’s just another “normal” weekend at Camp David.

And don’t bother trying to make the case that everything isn’t hunky-dory in Baghdad to rabid acolytes such as Jay Garner. Like the president, the demoted viceroy doesn’t care what the facts indicate — to him even a looted and punctured glass can be half-full. “We ought to be beating our chests every day,” he said, dismissing the notion that any of us should feel bad about the problems besetting Iraq. “We ought to look in a mirror and get proud. We ought to stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say, ‘Damn, we’re Americans.’” That’s sure to win us some more goodwill around the world. Hoo-rah, and pass the Kool-Aid, General Jay!

And if you think the president is saving his fanaticism only for the international sector, think again. His dogged devotion to selling his latest round of tax cuts for the wealthy as a “jobs creation plan” — despite an avalanche of evidence that it will do nothing of the sort — proves that he can be just as fervent on the home front.

“Jobs are on the line,” said Bush after the Senate passed its version of the tax cut. “I call on Congress to resolve their differences quickly so I can sign a bill that will help create jobs, boost take-home pay and spur economic growth.” And for those with “-illionaire” as part of their economic description, it probably will.

It obviously makes no difference to the president that 10 Nobel Prize-winning economists have condemned his tax cuts as “not the answer” to high unemployment, or that a new Congressional Budget Office study found that the “jobs and growth package” will actually have very little effect on long-term growth. Not interested. Not listening. The 1.4 million jobs the White House repeatedly says the tax cuts will create are more a matter of a fanatic’s faith than of dispassionate forecasting.

The fact is there are now 2.1 million more unemployed Americans than when Bush took office — the vast majority of them having lost their jobs after the president’s initial $1.3 trillion tax cut was passed in 2001. Difficult evidence to ignore — unless “ignore the evidence” is your 11th commandment.

A popular definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Well, that seems to be the White House theory on the power of tax cuts to produce new jobs: It didn’t work before; let’s try it again.

Welcome to the D.C. Matrix.

Arianna Huffington is a nationally syndicated columnist, the co-host of the National Public Radio program "Left, Right, and Center," and the author of 10 books. Her latest is "Fanatics and Fools: The Game Plan for Winning Back America."

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>