Wright from Washington City
April 21, 2007


The mask of tears



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The Virginia Tech massacre has provided a rich vein of rhetorical nourishment for politicians, courtier pundits, and other hypocrites, and they've lost no time in rushing, like starving vampires, to suck it dry.

Everyone who can get his mug on TV is, of course, Shocked and Saddened by this Terrible Tragedy and at great pains to let us know about it. Even the Secretary of Agriculture got into the act. Unable to elbow his way in front of a camera, he was forced to make do with a memo sent out to the thousands of tax-fattened toilers under his supervision: "As we mourn the loss of so many of our Nation's brightest and most promising young people ..." etc., etc. I wasn't aware that Virginia Tech had any special distinction in hosting a high proportion of "our Nation's brightest and most promising young people," but what do I know?

The Little Emperor was quick to take advantage of this opportunity to look good on television and draw attention — however temporarily — away from the ongoing disasters of his regime. Those include, but are not limited to:

The War on the Iraqis, which, as I predicted three years ago, just keeps getting worse. And worse.

The War on the Afghanis. Ditto.

The continuing poor performance of the American economy, despite attempts to fool the citizenry by cooking the employment and price statistics. Plus the ticking combined time-bomb of the housing-price bubble — now beginning to collapse — and millions of bad mortgages.

The Scooter Libby conviction for perjury.

The Walter Reed hospital scandal, which revealed to the public just how much the regime cares about its legionaries after they've been maimed and are no longer of any use to the war machine. [1]

The Roberto Gonzales scandal, in which U.S. attorneys, who are supposed to be above politics, were obviously fired because they wouldn't prosecute Democrats for "voter fraud" — this, by a regime that relied on vote skullduggery to win not one but both presidential elections. [2]

And, most recently, the Paul Wolfowitz give-my-sweetie-a-big-promotion scandal, in which the philandering chief architect of the above-mentioned War on the Iraqis, who promised that it would be short, cheap, and paid for by Iraqi oil, was kicked upstairs to the juiciest sinecure available — presidency of the World Bank, with a tax-free $400,000 salary and lavish perquisites — and still managed to foul his nest because he couldn't resist getting his mistress in on the goodies. Meanwhile, believe it or not, he started an "anti-corruption" campaign!

So Bush jumped at the chance to travel down to Blacksburg, put on his sorrowful face, and shovel out a standard "what a terrible tragedy, but we must be strong" speech.

"It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering," he said. "Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Of course, one could say the same thing about the senseless violence and suffering now being experienced by the people of Iraq. Iraqis undergo the equivalent of several Virginia Tech massacres every single day. And those who survive have seen their lives destroyed, their economy ruined, their country turned into a living hell, all because of Bush's overweening grandiosity and malice. But their violence and suffering is safely insulated from the majority of the American people, so the monumental irony of Bush's speech is apparently lost on almost everyone. [3]

What has not been lost is the chance for Miss Grundys and Pecksniffs of every stripe to posture and declaim. Perhaps the most egregious example was a BBC News announcer I heard on public radio, who wondered whether the massacre would finally get us crazy Americans to shape up and renounce our love for firearms; and, so help me, whether the Brits "have something to offer" us in that regard.

Well, Mr. Condescending BBC Newsreader, maybe you do. You could remind us of Scotland's Dunblane massacre eleven years ago, in which a pederast Scoutmaster murdered 17 little kids, despite the stringent gun laws in effect at the time, and how the resulting uproar enabled the British elites to push through a near-total ban on guns.

And you could tell us how well things have worked out in Britain since then. You could point out how violent crime has skyrocketed, how ordinary citizens are now prosecuted when they desperately use umbrellas or other ordinary implements to defend themselves from criminals, how London has become one of the most dangerous cities in the industrialized world, how your cops minimize crime statistics by ignoring complaints, how violent home invasions are now common because criminals need not fear the odd shotgun or revolver. Stuff like that.

Unfortunately, that information isn't likely to get much exposure in the inevitable orgy of wailing and caterwauling. The gun-banners can barely hide their glee behind their obligatory masks of sorrow and outrage, but it's a bit too early to for them to start the drumbeat without risking a reaction against their opportunism.

However, the Ministry of Truth (otherwise known as the News Media) is preparing the ground with stories about the difficulty of the gun-control issue. You know: how all those red-neck backwoods inbred hillbilly fanatics regard owning their weapons as some kind of God-given right, and how they and the vicious National Rifle Association have got all the right-thinking people on the Hill cowed into submission. [4] Look for dozens of such high-minded "stories" and "analyses" in the week ahead, many of them no doubt pulled off dusty hard drives and spiffed up with a few new paragraphs.

We should get bit of a respite from one quarter, owing to the incredible fact that election campaigns for Emperor now span two whole years. That means most of the candidates — as scurvy a crew as ever gave a small child nightmares — are terrified of saying anything about gun control, pro or con. The reason is that any resulting controversy could put a damper on their campaign fund raising — by which they live as candidates or die. It will be especially interesting to watch Hillary Clinton dodge the issue. She and her base constituency are hardcore anti-gun, but to acknowledge that would alienate a large minority of rank-and-file Democrats and potentially give the Republicans a stick to beat her with in the general election. That could scare off big contributors looking to bet on the main chance. It also goes directly against the strategy of "triangulation" — or "being all things to all people" — that worked so well for her husband.

But it's the little things for which one is most grateful. At least the obnoxious Don Imus is finally off the front page, along with his tormentors, the insufferable political ambulance chasers Jackson and Sharpton. [5] And Anna Nicole Smith is now but a distant memory. Thank heaven for small mercies.

April 21, 2007

Published 2007 WTM Enterprises.

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