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Comparing George Bush to Kim Jong Il
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Well, we're only a month into the new year, but I believe the prize for idiotic, repugnant hyperbole already belongs to Jack Shafer, who just wrote this utter piece of garbage for Slate comparing George Bush to Kim Jong Il.

A sampling:

If "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il of North Korea and George W. Bush ever meet, I suspect the two will bond like long-lost brothers.

Yes, because Bush said in an interview that he "loathes" Kim Jong Il. Why would they love each other? Because they're the sons of powerful fathers and according to Shafer, they approach the press the same way and govern the same way.

Uh. Huh.

Successful propagandists must also discourage dissenters who might disrupt the party line. And the two best ways to keep people stupid and nodding is by shutting down the information flow and by stiffing the press. At these chores, Bush excels.

Okay, I personally remember interviews with Tim Russert, Brit Hume, and Dr. Phil (!), roundtable interviews with reporters, and so on. It is well-accepted that Bush makes himself less available to the press than some previous Presidents (such as Clinton, who was an excellent speaker and won points the more he was on camera). Bush is much less polished and thus it only makes sense that part of any Bush political strategy would be to make himself less accessible to the press (if you were his political advisor, would you encourage more or fewer interviews and speaking engagements?). It's simply not his strength.

But let's try to get just a little fucking perspective here.

Let me refer you to the latest Human Rights Watch report on North Korea.

There is no freedom of the press in North Korea. All media are either run or controlled by the state. All TVs and radios are fixed so that they can transmit only state channels. The simple act of watching or listening to the foreign press—or tampering with TVs or radios for this purpose—is a crime that carries harsh punishment. All publications are subject to supervision and censorship by the state.

Yeah, that sounds about the same, huh?

The question is whether Shafer is just appallingly ignorant on just how bad things are in North Korea, or whether he just doesn't give a shit by blithely comparing a President who gives 5 interviews a year instead of 10 to one who sends you to a gulag if you listen to a foreign radio station.

In fact, as Michael Kinsley wrote in Slate a year and a half ago, it's not that Bush favors unfiltered news; he wants everybody to receive it through his filter. In recent weeks we've learned what extremes he'll go to in working around reporters.

Um, yes Mr. Shafer, this is called, oh what's the word? Politics. Is he honestly trying to insinuate that all modern politicians do not try to manipulate news in their favor or spin things to suit their agendas? If so, what in the hell is he smoking?

But what of George W. Bush? How does he gain by fortressing himself and his administration away from critics, skeptics, and questioners? How, exactly, does it benefit him to follow the philosophy of Kim Jong-il?

The answer to the first question is patently obvious, as stated above. He doesn't "fortress" himself and the administration from critics (virtually every week one of his cabinet officials makes the rounds on the Sunday morning shows), and he still interacts with the press, though not to the extent most liberals would like (because they assume, correctly, that the more accessible Bush is, the more in general it hurts him).

The second question is just too morally obtuse, too reprehensible, and too utterly fucking clueless to even deserve to be printed.

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