Those of us old enough to remember the 1980s can never forget the television character Joe Isuzu, the slimy car salesman who would say anything, no matter how outrageous the lie, in order to sell a car. Fortunately, as Joe Isuzu spoke, a by-line appeared at the bottom of the screen providing the truth. I was reminded of Joe Isuzu while watching the State of the Union address, and kept waiting for that by-line to appear as Bush spoke. If it had, it might have looked something like this:
BUSH: “The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working.”
BY-LINE: Yeah right. Since taking office, over 2.5 million jobs have been lost–that’s about 80,000 a month. Higher paying manufacturing jobs have been disappearing at a rate unmatched since the Great Depression. And the tax relief past, when fully in place, will provide 52 percent of the tax dollars to the richest 1 percent of the nation.
BUSH: “We can press on with economic growth … or we can turn back to the old policies.”
BY-LINE: Would those be the policies that provided our nation with a budget surplus?
BUSH: “With help from the new Afghan Army, our coalition is leading aggressive raids against surviving members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.”
BY-LINE: In my dreams. The fact is that our detour into Iraq in quest of personal vendetta has allowed the Taliban and Al Qaeda to regroup and get stronger. It is they who are on the offensive, aggressively blowing up American targets–even within the capital city.
BUSH: “We are working with Iraqis and the United Nations to prepare for a transition to full Iraqi sovereignty by the end of June.”
BY-LINE: Working with Iraqis, or against? They already defined how they envision their future. Open elections with the immediate departure of U.S. forces. But this destiny conflicts with U.S. goals. So we concluded they are not ready for democracy and must instead set up a caucus structure so our few allies in the country can have sufficient power to block the will of the
majority of the people who do not want us there–as witnessed by the daily body count of U.S. soldiers.
BUSH: “Nine months of intense negotiations involving the U.S. and Great Britain succeeded with Libya.”
BY-LINE: Forget that for decades the international community through the U.N. successfully isolated Libya to the point that Libya had no other choice but to rejoin the international community in order to economically survive. This strategy was working in Iraq, which succeeded in dismantling the weapons of mass destruction we sold them, by evidence of our own inspectors, who now say WMD did not exist prior to invading that country. In other words, Saddam was telling the truth when he insisted that these weapons were dismantled.
BUSH: “Already the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.”
BY-LINE: Read the reports’ lips: No WMD, nor programs! In fact, the Kay Report is calling for a congressional inquiry to investigate how our nation was misled to believe that stockpiles of WMDs were ready to be unleashed upon the U.S. But of course, we can’t handle the truth, so the White House, more concerned with election votes than national security, is blocking any attempt to start such an inquiry.
BUSH: “From the beginning, America has sought international support for operations in … Iraq, and we have gained much support.”
BY-LINE: Yes, I sleep better knowing that El Salvador and Bulgaria are watching our backs.
BUSH: “We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace–a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman.”
BY-LINE: Our entire mission in Iraq is the establishment of the Pax Americana so that their oil can freely flow to our nation. The term “empire” can no longer be narrowly defined as the physical possession of foreign lands who pay tribute to the hegemonic power. “Empire” in modern day language means “globalized economy,” which provides economic benefits to multi-national corporations whose influences are secured through the military might of one hyper-superpower. While empires of old relied on brute force, the U.S. Empire mainly relies on economic force. Through economic might, the U.S. Empire can dictate the terms of trade with other nations, guaranteeing that benefits flow to the U.S. and the elite of the countries who agree to the trade. Indeed, the sun never sets on where the U.S. exerts a dominating influence.
ME: Oh no–we only dealt with the first half of the State of Union and already ran out of space. Goodbye until next time, when we explore the domestic half of Joe Isuzu, I mean George Bush’s, speech.
Miguel De La Torre, a Cuban American, is professor of theologies of liberation at Hope College in Holland, Mich. He is a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a former Baptist pastor in Kentucky. His column also appears in the Holland Sentinel.
Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.