So team Bush has concluded that their poor poll numbers reflect a general lack of fear in the American population. So Bush gave a speech today where he revealed the details of a foiled terror plot from four years ago, said the words "9/11" a lot and the word "terror" a lot more and generally tried to scare the crap out of people.
I have a new theory of the Bush administration: Terror is the MacGuffin of the Bush administration. MacGuffin is a great word I just learned. A MacGuffin is a plot device in a movie. It is central to and drives the plot, but really doesn't amount to anything on its own. My favorite example is the the silver case in Ronin. All kinds of mayhem and double-cross are waged over the case, but we never learn what's inside the case. Other good examples of MacGuffin's are the "letters of transit" in Casablanca and the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. These objects drive the plot, but really, in the end, they don't amount to anything. Terror is same for Bush. Everything revolves around terror. Everything they do that is controversial is done to "keep us safe from terror." Every world leader Bush meets with, they talk about terror. Bush used the word terror 97 times in his speech today. The whole "plot" of the Bush administration is "terror"
But it turns out the briefcase is empty. This administration isn't spending any money on fighting terrorism. Kevin Drum:
Anyone who has experience with a big bureaucracy knows that budget authority is the #1 indicator of what their organization's real priorities are. That's especially true in the federal government, where spin is a way of life and hard spending plans are virtually the only way to figure out what the boss considers really important.
So if that's the case, just how seriously does the Bush administration take the future threat from global terrorism? The answer, judging from its recently released Quadrennial Defense Review, is not very. To be sure, it contains lots of fine words about "long wars" and post-9/11 priorities, but when you look at where the money is going, virtually nothing has changed. As far as the 2006 QDR is concerned, we're not fighting al-Qaeda, we're still fighting the Cold War.
The real way to show priorities is to spend money on them. All our money is going to weapon systems that do us no good in a "war on terror." Bush has this magic silver case called "terror" that he claims is the center of everything. But there's nothing in the case. MacGuffin.