WASHINGTON – When President Bush took the national pulpit on September 20 to address a joint session of Congress, he faced perhaps his greatest challenge since his inauguration. Mainstream media pundits spoke at length of his need to rise to the occasion — to solidify the nation’s commitment to fighting terrorism. With the chamber’s applause still audible, the reports were already coming out. Bush’s approval rating had risen ten more points, to an astronomical 91 percent. His singling out of common citizens — some of whom sat in the audience — had captured the allegiance of skeptics. His calls for justice constituted the uncompromising stance that United States politics needed to embody during such a period of national crisis.
Amidst all of this praise, numerous critics spoke out against the presidential call for war.
“In Bush’s speech we got no doctrine, no strategy, no evidence,” said Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. “What we did get was a lot of Wild West rhetoric — dead or alive material.” [Read more…]