Friday, September 08, 2006

Mission Accomplished

Well, Bush, we did it. Mission Accomplished, to borrow a phrase. A great audience for my presentation here in Springfield--I thought maybe a couple of hundred people, mostly college students, many of whom stayed well beyond the scheduled end for a question and answer session. Normally, according to the good faculty folk who coordinated the event, they are more eager to head for the doors. Most of all, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to spread the word.

The word, as we discussed last week, was simple: It's personal. Well, that makes two words really, I guess. Or two and a half. I decided on impulse to abandon my plan to read all four of the preparatory pieces I've been writing these past few days, and instead started out with "Bound and Gagged", that poem about the carvings rescued by the painter Ed Moses from the basement of the Natural History Museum and installed in a floodlit cage as a part of that collaborative exhibition a couple of years ago. When I thought later about the choice, I realized that my instinct was to not challenge my listeners at once with the more "liberal" of my entries in this "belly of the [conservative] beast", but rather to establish some ground on which I felt we would all agree: the ground of common human experience seen in the perspective of the centuries rather than the past few years.

I think that choice worked well, because it opened up some hearts and minds which might otherwise have been closed to the implied--sometimes overt--criticism of your policies in these pages. It was also very clear that these ideas become more palatable to those who might otherwise be opposed to them when they come with a healthy dose of personal ownership and sense of responsibility. When I acknowledge the "Bush" in me, and share the understanding that I'm really talking to myself as well as to your own good self, people are more likely to be listening with a sympathetic ear.

Anyway, Bush, after the presentation I was thrilled to have so much positive feedback. The most encouraging to me were reports about how students had responded in later class discussions. Even if no minds were changed, perhaps at the very least some hearts were opened.

I notice from the news this morning that the volume continues to be turned up on the 9/11 anniversary, with your continued series of speeches, the release of the tape purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his band of miscreants preparing for the attacks, the massive car bomb in Kabul, the resurgence of the Taliban... and so on. It all provides you with the opportunity to change the subject, diverting attention away from your Iraq adventure before the November elections and capitalizing on the fears of the citizenry of this country.

Alas, this seems to be your strong suit. We can expect a lot more of it in the coming weeks. I have noted one particularly vile TV spot put out by a group that identifies itself as piece that unabashedly exploits those fears and suggests that only the great Bush team has the right approach to protecting us from terrorism. I'm hoping, without a great deal of confidence, that it will not escape the American public that this kind of advertisement flies in the face of all evidence to the contrary.


PK said...

So glad things went well for you:). Sometimes the best laid plans in the beginning aren't conducive to what the gut feels and so we switch over. Good for you. Yes, there isn't much that doesn't fly anymore. Except for the over abundance of his BS, that, there doesn't seem to be any end to. November will tell the tale...

Anonymous said...

After discussing with many of my fellow schoolmates, the majority of students hated every second of the Convocation. We felt it was a complete waste of time and money. Drury could have saved hundreds, if not thousands by telling us to visit your blog. Reading it wouldn't have been any different than going to the convocation.

Steve said...

I must respectfully disagree with the Drury student anonymous. I have read much of Peter's Blog, but found his readings last week to be a completely different experience. Reading the blog omits all of the the non-verbals, other nuances, and commentary about his thought processes that go with a F2F encounter.

It is true that some students were turned off by the political implications of what Peter said last week, but if students are looking for an educational environment that merely confirms what they already believe to be true (as opposed to helping them consider a wide variety of perpectives) they have come to the wrong university.

Thanks again, Peter!