I’m not a political blogger. But… (Rambling ahead.)

In general, my reasons for not posting about politics are rather like Michelle’s:  other people do it far better than I can. It’s not that I’m not paying attention in my offline life, but there are enough political bloggers out there without me, Literature Geek, pointing to the same links. That, and when something happens that’s as deeply horrifying and enraging as the current scandal at Abu Ghraib, words fail me. Sometimes the only response is "WTF? WTF!!??"

However, I’ll make an exception and point to William Saletan’s chronology of what Bush said as the Iraq prison scandal unfolded (at Slate). All those reiterations of the phrase "Saddam Hussein’s rape rooms and torture chambers" on the part of Bush, Rumsfeld, et al., look pretty damn hypocritical now. It’s another instance of something I keep noticing about the current administration’s discourse about the war: a kind of eerie repetition compusion. When in doubt (as at his press conference in April), Bush trots out his catchphrases and repeats them, over and over. Stay the course. Changing the world. Rape rooms and torture chambers. (And that’s just the verbal repetition compulsion. The fact that Bush Jr. seems to want to fight Bush Sr.’s war all over again has already been commented on.)

And see, also, Timothy Burke’s take on the Bush administration’s favorite mantras, "In Nothing We Trust" (5/12/04):

"Free us from oversight," said the Bush Administration on September 12, 2001, "because you can trust in our professionalism and our ethical constraint. We’re the good guys. We won’t do anything bad".

President Bush more or less repeats this mantra today in response to the escalating scandal of American prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, that it was just a few bad apples, that we’re a democracy and and this shows how great democracy is that it can expose a few isolated misdeeds. Trust us. The world’s collective jaw drops. Does he really believe that?

I spent yesterday evening at one of the informal poetry workshops I’ve been sporadically attending. We sat around in the early-summer heat drinking cold beer and eating chips and guacamole, and reading each other’s poems. Our host for the evening, a recent MFA whose work I always admire for its subtlety and deep strangeness, contributed a poem about war; when we discussed it, one of the points that came up was that we were all interested in the way he used repetitions of his own to suggest the degree to which repetition has dominated the language of politics lately. (I suspect I may be making the poem sound ham-handed. It wasn’t, though.)

I used to not be interested in writing "occasional" poems, or poems about politics. I think that may be starting to change. Someone’s got to take the language back from the recyclers of platitudes.

4 Responses to “I’m not a political blogger. But… (Rambling ahead.)”

  1. loren says:

    Try as I might, I can’t totally ignore the outside world, either.
    Lately it haunts me enough that I find it difficult to just sit around reading poetry or walking through the woods.
    In a very real sense, I feel like I have to speak up against what is going on or become an accomplice in this insanity.

  2. Rana says:

    It does keep bleeding over into areas I rather it didn’t — but I suppose that is the nature of this horrible beast. I can’t ignore it — indeed, I’d feel irresponsible if I did — but I don’t know that I want to invite it “home” to my blog. At least not yet.
    I don’t know whether it is an unwillingness to see the post over and over until it moves in archives, or that I simply lack the words for my grief/ sorrow/ anger/ outrage/ fury/ disgust/ horror/ pity…

  3. I have no words. I do not want to dilute the words of others.
    I have not been precisely silent, but I haven’t tried to express what I feel, either. Partly, I think, because I don’t like feeling it.

  4. Michelle says:

    I find it difficult (as my post suggested) to read/look at without becoming inundated with the imagery. Even beyond that, though, the beast of discussion is growing to such an enormity that if I wanted, I couldn’t keep track of the sprouting discussions and respond intelligibly. Much of the time, the emotions stirred ricochet across such a vast range that I can’t even express them.