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Musharraf and Bush: Two of a Kind

Two Peas in a Presidential Pod

Suppose it’s shortly before the 2004 election. Presidential hopeful John Kerry is leaving a campaign appearance in Amarillo, TX where there’s a large crowd eager to see him. His limo stops on the airport tarmac and he steps out for a little glad-handing along the police line.

The Secret Service doesn’t pre-screen his crowds as it does President Bush’s. Kerry’s crowds are mixed and attract both supporters and hecklers. One heckler in the crowd holds a sign that says, “Kerry is a moran”.

As he shake hands with the crowd, a small, tightly-woun d man lunges forward and fires three times at Kerry with a pistol. Wounded, Kerry drops to the ground and Secret Service agents try to grab the shooter. Despite the agents’ best efforts, the wiry little man lunges to within a few feet of Kerry. Suddenly, an explosion rips the air.

Time stands still. The shooter is vaporized along with two agents struggling with him at the time of the explosion. Shrapnel spreads in all directions, killing at least 10 people. Initial reports say one deadly shard rips through the body of the Secret Service agent protecting Kerry. It exits the agent’s body and goes into Kerry’s neck, where it severs his spinal cord. Kerry dies on an operating table several hours later.

The Setup Begins
Within hours, Bush holds a press conference to announce the NSA has intercepted radio traffic that proves beyond doubt that al Qaeda is responsible for the attack. He praises Kerry as a patriotic American who gave his life in the War on Terror. He vows to round up the terrorists and dispense some frontier justice. The public will not see or hear from the president for several weeks. His press office will handle every question by saying they can’t comment on an incident under investigatio n. However, no formal probe has been planned or launched.

Several hours after the presidential press conference, the Chief surgeon at Amarillo General holds another press conference to announce that, contrary to initial reports, bomb shrapnel didn’t kill Kerry. He says x-ray evidence shows (holding an x-ray of a human head up for the cameras) that Kerry’s head smashed into the airport tarmac when his bodyguards flung him to the ground in an attempt to save him. The resulting fractured skull was the official cause of death. No bullets. No shrapnel. No severed spinal column. Just an awful accident caused by a rabid terrorist trying to bring down the American elections.

Reporters ask when autopsy results will be available. The doctor says there will be no autopsy and, in fact, the body has already been taken away and will buried in a private ceremony at an undisclosed location in just a few hours.

As the days and hours pass, there is massive confusion. Some link the attack to al Qaeda, but opponents doubt the link since al Qaeda doesn’t officially claim responsibili ty. There are calls to release the tape confirming al Qaeda involvement, but the administrati on says it’s too sensitive to release and would only help the terrorists. Reporters question why there was no autopsy. Ari Fleischer tells them Kerry was buried immediately because of religious reasons. When reporters point out that Kerry is Catholic, Fleischer says he’ll check that out and get back to them. He never does.

Too Many Questions, Not Enough Answers
Within 36 hours, dozens of government officials give interviews providing very different accounts of the bombing. Some suspect the vice president is orchestratin g a disinformati on campaign. More questions arise and Senator Hillary Clinton calls for a congressiona l investigatio n. The general public doesn’t believe the administrati on’s protests that it wasn’t involved. There are too many questions and not enough answers.

Aaaaannnnnnd SCENE!

Now imagine a similar incident in Pakistan. No one believes Pervez Musharraf. There are a million holes in his story. The physical evidence that survived the blast is gone. Bhutto’s body is in the ground. There is no way to independentl y verify his government’s claims.

Here we have two similar incidents - one real, one imagined. But there’s a thread of truth that binds the two together - few people in either country believe what their government is telling them. Voters can no longer distinguish truth from fiction. Even though one is a hypothetical  , many people could reasonably see parallels in how the Pakistanis are behaving and how our own government would probably behave in a similar situation. Both presidents have all the credibility of OJ standing in court with a knife dripping blood onto Lance Ito’s floor.

I’m not claiming that Bush considered such a plan or that he plans to halt our own upcoming elections via some dramatic event. But not long ago, the Kerry scenario would have been laughably unthinkable. I still doubt Bush would act in such a way, but not nearly so strongly as I would have eight years ago. Today, I doubt anything my president tells me, just like the Pakistanis don’t believe a word Musharraf utters.

Yet, everyone’s worried about what will happen in Pakistan.


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One Response to “Musharraf and Bush: Two of a Kind”

  1. I read the post with great interest, looking to see what, anything at all would do, could possibly justify calling Musharraf and Bush “Two of a Kind” without even a question mark to indicate that there might be a question about the slur. Sadly, there was nothing, zip, nada, goose-eggs. Alas, I find plenty to justify doubts about Musharraf’s account of the Bhutto and nothing but your imagination implicating Bush. Sigh.

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