Remember Ari Fleischer?
I remember Ari from back in the early days of the Bush administration. I remember being astounded at his ability to keep a straight face while spouting blatant, obvious lies. "Now that is a liar!" I thought, awestruck.
When Ari left the administration shortly after the invasion of Iraq, I was disappointed. Having Ari leave was like breaking a set. His replacement, Scott McClellan, although willing enough, just didn't exude the same brash audacity that only the best liars display. Where Ari would maintain his blank, stupefying expression while uttering his falsehoods, McClellan would falter, look down, and stutter: he just didn't measure up. Ari was much more apt for a mendacious and brazen criminal enterprise like the Bush administration.
Well, good news, everybody! Ari's back! If you share my destructive addiction to cable news blather, you will already have seen Ari on MSNBC or Fox News pitching his latest public relations effort: Freedom's Watch. (How's that for an Orwellian moniker?)
This organization is currently running advertisements showing maimed soldiers or relatives of the fallen urging viewers to speak up against a withdrawal from Iraq by calling their congresspersons. I've seen some of the ads, and they are vintage Ari: images of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers (that old conflation gig), pitiful images of a war veteran amputee. It is funded (to the tune of $15 million) by Bush Pioneers that masquerade as a grass-roots movement. You can see the names here.
Ari himself is a little rusty, though. I first saw him on Hardball where Mike Barnicle caught him flat-footed by asking him to name the soldier portrayed in the ad. Ari couldn't, of course. (And why should Ari really care, anyway? The guy already served his purpose by getting his leg blown off.) But the next day, Ari showed signs of getting back into fighting trim. He spoke with Joe Scarborough by phone that morning, and casually dropped the soldier's name, without being prompted. (One can only imagine the ass-chewing Ari administered to some hapless staffer right after the Hardball fiasco.)
The best part of it all is that Freedom's Watch has given us all an opportunity to participate in democratic debate on their dime! The organization has set up a toll-free number that you can call to express your views.
When you call, you will be asked if you believe America cannot surrender the War on Terror by withdrawing from Iraq. Then, if you say "yes," the operator will offer to connect you to your congressional representative so that you can urge him/her to vote against withdrawal.
Well, I called, several times. And, as a personal tribute to Ari, I lied. The operator connected me to Senator Gordon Smith's office, where I urged Senator Smith to do everything he could to precipitate the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.
I urge any of you to do the same. If you're uncomfortable lying (and who could blame you?) you needn't do so. Just call and chat. Suggest that Ari get a toupee. Ask about the weather. Tell a joke. Whatever. Just be sure to help Ari and his band burn through that $15 million.
You know that Ari, a world-class liar par excellence, will have to admire the spirit of your call.