Catapulting the Propaganda
The President, Cindy Sheehan, and How Words Die
By Tom Engelhardt

“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.” — George Bush, “President Participates in Social Security Conversation in New York,” May 24, 2005.

Forced from his five-week vacation idyll in Crawford by the mother of a dead boy he sent to war, the President has recently given two major speeches defending his war policies and, between biking and boating, held a brief news conference at Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, Idaho. On August 22nd, he addressed the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Salt Lake City for 30 minutes; on August 24th, he spoke for 43 minutes to families of the Idaho National Guard in the farming community of Nampa, Idaho.

As his poll figures continue on a downward spiral, he has found it necessary to put extra effort into “catapulting the propaganda.” Though he struck a new note or two in each speech, these were exceedingly familiar, crush-the-terrorists, stay-the-course, path-to-victory speeches. That’s hardly surprising, since his advisors and speechwriters have been wizards of repetition. No one has been publicly less spontaneous or more — effectively — repetitious than our President; but sometimes, as he says, you “keep repeating things over and over and over again” and what sinks in really is the truth rather than the propaganda. Sometimes, just that extra bit of repetition under less than perfect circumstances, and words that once struck fear or offered hope, that once explained well enough for most the nature of the world they faced, suddenly sound hollow. They begin to sound… well, repetitious, and so, false. Your message, which worked like a dream for so long, goes off-message, and then what do you do?

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