Connect the Dots

[This piece ran as a radio commentary on KUNM in the spring of 2005.]

Connecting the Dots, or, The Spirit of Falsehood
Andrew Bard Schmookler

Lead In: We hear lots of stories in the news over the months and years. But commentator Andrew Bard Schmookler says that sometimes it’s not in any one story but in how all the stories fit together that we get the important story.

Let’s play connect the dots.” No, not those famous pre-9/11 dots. Some other dots.

Here’s a recent one—about that reporter who got admitted into the White House press room to lob friendly questions at the president and his men, like, How are you going to deal with people who are so out of touch with reality”—meaning the Senate Democrats—and who turned out not to be a reporter at all.

Oh, and here’s another, just in—the scientists at the Department of Fish and Wildlife who complain they’ve been pressured to falsify their findings to conform to the administration’s desire not to enforce the Endangered Species Act.

That seems to connect with a couple of dots.

Like the dot about telling Congress the price tag for the prescription drug benefit would be $400 billion, when they already knew that was way low, and about threatening the public servant who wanted to correct the false figure?

And can we draw a line to those famous sixteen words from that State of the Union Address—about Iraq’s pursuit of uranium—making claims they’d already been told were false, to justify what they were bent on doing in Iraq, apparently for other reasons?

And let’s not forget that big black dot —the Swiftboat ads—working to cast a war hero as a self-serving coward. An effective message it was, too, though a lie—and one never repudiated by a president eager to win, whether fair and square or not.

(Oh,did you hear? This same outfit is now smearing the AARP, which had the audacity to oppose the administration’s plans for Social Security.)

And then there are some Orwellian dots, like calling their plan to gut the Clean Air act the Clear Skies Initiative,” and dubbing as the Healthy Forests Initiative” their plan to let timber companies devour once-protected National Forests.

Gosh, there are so many other dots. But the shape of the beast is already clear. The beast that’s emerging is the spirit of falsehood.

Just how big is this beast? Should these examples of deceiving others be connected with another set of dots—how resistant these guys seem to be to hearing a truth that doesn’t confirm what they already know” is true?

Like that dot concerning how this administration brushed aside tons of good counsel on what it would take to secure the peace in Iraq?

And is it deception, or a refusal to look at reality, when this administration simply refuses to acknowledge the growing scientific consensus about climate change and its dangers?

Either way, disregarding reality doesn’t let you escape it.

Which is why —whatever are the various parts of this beast, the spirit of falsehood—it’s being on the rampage has got to be dangerous news for America.

It’s said that the devil is in the details. But I think, on the contrary, it’s really in the patterns we see when we connect the dots that we discover what kind of beast is on the prowl.

I’m Andrew Bard Schmookler

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