Tuesday, September 18, 2007
When things go wrong don't apologise, just look to the future
I've been slack since my trip to Holland. Naughty me. I'm off again in ten days time to Cyprus, so I promise to get a little more in between now and then.
I seldom manager to make it all the way through a newspaper, especially on Sundays, but last weekend I managed to get as far as Armando Ianucci's Observer column on the back page of the news section. I loved his description of a conversation with a former Bush aide:
I'm so glad you asked
Talking of doubt, last week I had a conversation with a genuine neo-con who didn't have any. He was one of George Bush's former speechwriters and I asked him how he responded to the never-answered complaint from most of us that invading Iraq was senseless, because all the terrorists were in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. His only response was: 'That was then. The question is, what do we do now?' I kept telling him that where we were now was a result of what he did then, but he kept saying: 'No, but what's important is what we do now.' Which is a bit like saying: 'I know I set fire to your house, but can we draw a line under that? What's important now is that I've got a charred hand, so where's the medical care?'
Drawing a line, redefining the issue, re-evaluating the situation in the light of a fresh context; these are all highly sophisticated reverbalisations of: 'I don't know; can we start again?' George W Bush declares progress, even though his definition of progress is to get unbearable violence back to the level it was a year-and-a-half ago. If he goes on redefining phrases to mean around 96 per cent of their opposite, it won't be long before he manages to persuade Americans to think that a 'debacle' is a good thing. Especially if it's an improvement on an outright disaster. Expect soon to have American families celebrate Debacle Day, host Fiasco Barbecues and organise Shambles Carnivals.
If only it were that easy.