"Pig in a Peignoir"

Published 01 September 2002

(word count: 750)

Following al Quida’s airborne murder and mayhem assault on America our Commander-in-Hiding posed the rhetorical question, “Why do they hate us?”  Rhetorical because he already had the answer: “They hate our freedoms.”  Not “They hate our troops tromping all over Sand Dune country.” Not “They hate our policy of propping up despotic rulers.”  Not “They hate our imperialistic meddling.”

A year later, our Prez is still singing his “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it” tune.  Unfortunately, Jack and Jane Muslim just aren’t singing along.  Demonstrations, boycotts and other expressions of disgust with American foreign policy persist throughout Mohammad Land.  What to do?  How do Compassionate Conservatives convince the average Ahab-on-the-street that they should love America?

The answer, according to a Washington Post report, is to create the “Office of Global Communications” with a mandate to “coordinate” the Compassionate Conservative administration’s foreign policy message and “supervise” America’s image abroad.

In other words, launch a worldwide public relations campaign.  Except it’s not called “PR” anymore.  Beltway policy punks have a sexy new fad, like Street Flyers with retractable skate wheels, called “public diplomacy.”  The goal, as enunciated by Charlotte Beers, a Bush appointed ad agency exec serving in the State Department’s top “public diplomacy” post, is to educate, and influence the attitudes of, foreign audiences toward our country.”  This is not brainwashing, mind you.  This is not Herr Goebbel’s propaganda machine.  This is “public diplomacy.”

But whatever you call it, there are only two basic approaches possible.  One is to tell the truth.  Confess that your pig is a pig and don’t try to “coordinate” or “supervise” people’s thinking.  Admit that your foreign policy is consistent with The Empire Strikes Back, not with a Constitutional Republic, and get the hell out of other people’s countries.  The Post article, in fact, quotes a young Abdullah-on-the-street as saying, “We want your political values.  It is you we perceive as not applying them in any consistent way.”

Which brings up the other approach: gussy up your pig in a pretty pink peignoir and invite everyone to ignore the pig and gush over the peignoir.  And that cues another quote from the same source, this time from Graham E. Fuller, a former vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council and a longtime Near East analyst: “If fundamental policies are seen to be flawed, a prettied-up package will not make a difference.”  Sound bite version: spin can’t hide the sin.

So which pig do you think our policy pundits will place on exhibit?  The same blue ribbon porker they’ve been showing domestically?  Apparently so.  The new “Office of Global Communications” is the brain hemorrhage of senior Bush adviser Karen Hughes, chief swine herder of the Compassionate Conservative’s attempts to “coordinate” and “supervise” a pre-digested message on domestic policy.  (Not brainwashing, remember.  Not propaganda.  “Public diplomacy.”)

But libertarians have already peeked beneath the Made in the USA peignoir and we’ve seen the pig.  Its name is Napoleon, Head Hog in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Even as we’re being told that we’re hated for our freedoms we’re systematically losing those freedoms.  Yet all the policy peddlers can talk about is image.  The pig remains a pig, and everyone knows it except the “public diplomacy” purveyors who fool only themselves.

Take, for example, the Right Hon. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) who bemoaned in a recent speech, “How is it that the country that invented Hollywood and Madison Avenue has allowed such a destructive and parodied image of itself to become the intellectual coin of the realm overseas?”

Could it be, Right Hon. Rep. Hyde, that people both foreign and domestic actually know the difference between a movie and reality, between a product and its hype, between a pig and a peignoir?

Peignoir: public works projects

Pig: property snatching for political purposes through zoning laws, land management, condemnation, eminent domain, smart growth, wetlands regulations, sustainable development.

Peignoir: campaign finance reform

Pig: cloven hoofed trampling of our freedoms of speech, press and association

Peignoir: USA Patriot Act

Pig: sneak-and-peak searches, nationwide roving wiretaps, unchecked surveillance, email snooping

Peignoir: If you smoke dope you may be funding terrorism

Pig: lies, damn lies, and really stupid damn lies

So forget about Ali and Amal.  What about Bob and Betty?  The question, to libertarians, is not “Why do they hate us?”  The question is “Why do America’s leaders hate Americans?”  With that as the question, the answer finally makes sense: “They hate our freedoms.”

- by Garry Reed