‘Two-Bit Thug’

I feel kind of bad about it, but I can’t make myself watch or listen much to the Bush people running the Iraq excursion. Partly it’s anger about the unapologetic lying, disingenuous self-justification, and
relentless absolutist spin — good vs. evil, democracy vs. tyranny, clean, well-mannered Americans and chosen friends vs. the malodorous of the world — that characterizes our leaders’ approach to their mission. And partly, there’s something about these guys, from the president on down, that’s just creepy and ugly when they’re being challenged in any way.
The latest exhibit for both parts of my unease comes an unblinking, tight-jawed Harvard MBA named Dan Senor, who’s the mouthpiece for the Amercan president of Iraq, Paul Bremer. Senor’s bio, on the White House site, gives no clue what expertise in Iraqi affairs got him into the first U.S. civilian team sent to Iraq last April. But,
the guy can spout the evil-doer rhetoric with the best of them. The New York Times quotes his summing up of this Sadr fellow, the Shiite demagogue who’s managed to raise some genuinely troubling resistance to the occupiers.

“Mr. Bremer’s spokesman, Dan Senor, described Mr. Sadr at a news conference as a ‘two-bit thug’ despised by the majority of Iraqis and said he and his forces would be destroyed.”

Of course, the thug line is just part of the administration’s script. The president himself used it earlier this week (twice, actually — here and here;
and a quick search on the not-too-reliable whitehouse.gov site indicates Bush and his people have used “thug” or “thugs” on 81 public occasions in the last 14 months. But you know, even if you consider Sadr and his guys the scum of the Earth, doesn’t it seem a little intemperate to make statements like this in public again and again? Doesn’t it seem a little bit like emotion has gotten the better of the Iraq excursion team? I mean, what would be lost by turning it down a notch and using a less loaded but very clear word like, for instance, “enemy”?
I like the irony in Senor pointing out that Sadr is despised by the majority of his countrymen. If you go by the 2000 election results, that’s something he and George Bush have in common.

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