Monday, July 07, 2008

Blowing Smoke for Freedom

In a barely disguised attempt to help elect John McCain, a non-profit group called Vets for Freedom is running TV ads to sell voters on the success of the Surge in Iraq.

Starting with $1.5 million worth on national cable as well as in Michigan, Nevada, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado this week, the commercials don't mention candidates' names but end their pitch with the claim, "We changed strategy in Iraq and the surge worked. Now that’s change you can believe in.”

The enormity of this insult to our intelligence--that dying and bleeding and spending billions in an endless war that should never have been waged is "change" underscores one of the 20th century's most striking achievements: the spreading of a Big Lie through mass communications.

Ironically, "Freedom" has always been a useful word to enslave public opinion, starting with that charlatan, Edward L. Bernays, who promoted himself as the master manipulator in "an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country."

In a triumph of misdirection for the tobacco industry in the 1920s, he sent models to march in a suffrage parade, telling the press they would be lighting "Torches of Freedom," which turned out to be cigarettes to promote the idea of women smoking in public.

Now, just as Bernays hid behind women's suffrage to hawk cancer, Vets for Freedom are using patriotism to sell more death and destruction in Iraq, with tactics crude enough to have sent Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham scurrying off their advisory board six weeks ago.

If he is the model of probity he has always claimed to be, John McCain will follow suit and tell Vets for Freedom to stop blowing smoke on his behalf.

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