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Gorilla campaign tactics

Busch Gardens is keeping gorillas — animals that are known for their strength — secured in a habitat that uses the same kind of moats that a gorilla in a Dallas zoo leaped over, creating damage in the zoo. In several lecture halls on campus, folding chairs have been damaged. It almost looks as though they have been ripped apart with much strength.

See what I did there? I never said there was a 400-pound gorilla loose on the USF campus, but you can draw the conclusion. The Bush administration is using the same technique to connect Saddam Hussein’s regime with the Sept. 11 hijackings. By associating the two, his clever team of speechwriters (credit where credit is due) is manipulating the public’s perception of events.

Bush did so in a speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center on Oct. 7, 2002. Back then, he was rallying support for his plan to go into Iraq with military force.

He started out by saying, “If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed. Saddam Hussein would be in a position to blackmail anyone who opposes his aggression. … He would be in a position to threaten America.” How hard is it to get a softball-sized amount of the material? He doesn’t say. Yet, he uses it to show a direct threat by creating fear of the mere possibility.

He then goes on to answer a rhetorical question to segue to Sept. 11 without much of a transition: “… why do we need to confront it now? And there’s a reason. We’ve experienced the horror of September the 11th. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people.” He is not saying Saddam had anything to do with it, but he doesn’t clearly state he didn’t, either. Rather, he has the audience make the connection for him.

To top it all off, though, he instills some more fear to further solidify the connection he just made by saying, “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

This is only one example of how he does it. He also did so in the State of the Union address, among countless other appearances.

In essence, he is manipulating the listener into believing something while retaining deniability later on. He can always say, “I never said that” when it turns out to be untrue. As an added bonus, it also gives him the right to slam papers or media outlets that suggested he did say that as “biased.”

Last week the Bush administration did just that. Speaking on CNBC’s Capital Report, Vice President Dick Cheney said a New York Times article carrying the headline “Panel Finds No Qaida-Iraq Tie,” was “outrageous.” He said that because the 9/11 Commission didn’t find “credible evidence” for the connection, didn’t mean there wasn’t any. Interestingly, he didn’t give proof of a connection either. (So there is a gorilla lose on campus because there is no evidence against it.)

The Bush administration is relying on the average voter having the attention span of a peanut and not remembering any such manipulation attempts. This, of course, is quite insulting to the American public and may come back to haunt him.

To quote George W. speaking about Al Gore’s campaign in March 2000, “Pretty soon, it’s going to have a corrosive effect on his campaign if he’s not telling the truth. The fact that he relies on facts — says things that are not factual — are going to undermine his campaign.”

After decrypting the somewhat unique grammar in this statement, it becomes apparent that even Bush believes voters will do the right thing and vote based on facts.

So maybe there is hope yet. And no, fear of attack by gorillas is not a valid excuse to cut class. I just made that up.

Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in geography and an Oracle Opinion editor.