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Friday, September 09, 2005

Perception is All

The Bushanistas care more about perception than reality. CHB knows that's been obvious since long before W announced his ``Clear Skies'' air quality farce. For this crew, managing a crisis is about crafting the right image, placing the camera in the right place in front of the right talking head with the right star-spangled backdrop -- it has nothing to do with actually fixing the problem.

Karl Rove and Karen Hughes have been the founders and load-bearing pillars of this strategy since W first ran for Texas guv'ner. And you all know that, thanks to her son graduating from high school, Hughes is finally filling her role as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy -- a position that sat vacant for months despite the intense need to reengage the world diplomatically. She was sworn in today. If only Hughes' kid had flunked a grade or two.

No doubt about it: she's going to make a bad situation worse. In today's WaPo, Dana Milbank describes Hughes' take on the problem of Katrina :

The problem, Hughes replied, was not a failed relief effort but a foreign press that did not appreciate the federal government's good work. "There are a lot of things being said about us around the world that aren't true," said the woman in charge of polishing the American image abroad. "We've marshaled the resources of our federal government" to help fellow Americans, she said, and if people think otherwise, "we need to aggressively challenge that idea around the world."
Yes, the person tasked with improving our deeply bruised image around the world is testing out her new powers on a domestic audience -- and she's a scary liar of the first order. Maybe speaking to so many hand-picked, loyalty-tested audiences has shaken her grip on reality. If governing was simply PR work, it'd be okay to have a bunch of jokers who'd rather be fishing calling the shots. But as Katrina amply demonstrated, it's about so much more -- and lives are very much at stake.

Let them fish instead.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when the Pentagon hired Charlotte Beers straight off of Madison Avenue in an earlier spin cycle of public diplomacy.

I happened to hear this acknowledged professional sales pitcher as she began this latest sales pitch with the following words:

"This is not a sales pitch..."

American-style marketing in a nuttyshell.

9/10/2005 3:29 AM  

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