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April 25, 2003

Watch the Spin

Following up on yesterday's Words of Mass Deception, today NPR (and an anonymous commenter) is telling us that, despite Ari's confident statements to the contrary, Yubbledew now says that the U.S. might not find WMDs in Iraq:

``He tried to fool the United Nations and did for 12 years by hiding these weapons. And so it's going to take time to find them,'' the president said at the Lima Army Tank Plant. ``But we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them or hid them, we're going to find out the truth.''

In the communications and PR world, I assume this is called "managing expectations."

Perhaps as an indicator of how the Yubbledew spin is working, the Hindustan Times is covering the "where's the WMDs?" story under the catchy headline: "Look, the WMD trick!" What's worth noting is that Yubbledew, Inc. isn't even really being tricky on this. It changes its story to fit the moment, just as it did in the buildup to the war. For months I've been trying to decide if this is a good thing. Are we better off when our government doesn't even attempt to decorate its lies with plausible trappings, or is this the most dangerous development in current American (and British) politics? Or perhaps there's nothing new happening at all. For example, the bait-and-switch has been a reliable technique for mass deception for ages. The latest iteration is working like this:

Bait (skeletal summary of Yubbldew, Inc.'s arguments for past year): "We can't seem to convince anyone that Saddam actually threatens the U.S. because his military capability has been decimated by inspections and sanctions for the last 12 years. Hey, let's tell them it's all about Saddam's WMDs falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue nations so we can go to war!"

Switch (Yubbldew's statement yesterday): "'One thing's for certain, Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction,' Bush said."

It might be enough to make us dizzy, if we weren't already to jaded and cynical to expect better from politicians.

Posted April 25, 2003 01:21 PM | general politics

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