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Constitution Day, all week, try the veal, it's made from slaughtered baby cows brutally confined in two-foot-wide crates.

Your Humble Blogger went to the White House website to find out what Our Only President’s proclamation on Constitution Day would be like. It took me a while to find it, as it was folded into Citizenship Day and Constitution Week (a whole week!). The proclamation reads as follows:

On Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and during Constitution Week, we celebrate the anniversary of our Nation's Constitution and honor the Framers who created the landmark document that continues to guide our Nation.

In the summer of 1787, delegates convened in Philadelphia to create "a more perfect Union" and craft the document that is the foundation of our country. With great diligence, they worked to develop a framework that would balance authority and inherent freedoms, Federal interests and State powers, individual rights and national unity. On September 17th of the same year, the delegates signed the Constitution of the United States.

Today, every American shares in this legacy of liberty, and we are grateful for the courage, conviction, and sacrifice of all those who have helped preserve and uphold the principles of a free society. As we remember the enduring importance of the Constitution, we also recognize our responsibility as citizens to respect and defend the values of our founding and participate in the unfolding story of freedom.

In celebration of the signing of the Constitution and in recognition of the Americans who strive to uphold the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, the Congress, by joint resolution of February 29, 1952 (36 U.S.C. 106, as amended), designated September 17 as "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day," and by joint resolution of August 2, 1956 (36 U.S.C. 108, as amended), requested that the President proclaim the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 of each year as "Constitution Week."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 17, 2007, as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and September 17 through September 23, 2007, as Constitution Week. I encourage Federal, State, and local officials, as well as leaders of civic, social, and educational organizations, to conduct ceremonies and programs that celebrate our Constitution and reaffirm our rights and responsibilities as citizens of our great Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.

GEORGE W. BUSH

It will come as no surprise to Gentle Readers that I looked this up for the sole purpose of criticizing its inadequacies, and indeed it is profoundly inadequate, not just as writing but as a representation of the place of the Constitution in the US culture and government. As a constrast, please look at Our Previous President’s proclamation from his seventh year in office.

So.

I was distracted, however, from my task, because I went to the Press Briefings and saw that the top entry was Press Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on the President's Speech. Yes, that’s right, this is an anonymous press briefing. Two Senior Administration Officials, identified only as Senior Administration Officials, gave a fucking press conference with full anonymity, and the press evidently showed up, took notes, and reported it, all anonymous like.

From a combined wire services story in my Hartford Courant headlined Bush Redefines the Goal: “"He obviously wants to get our position in Iraq to a point where it's in a good place for the next president to come in," said a senior administration official who, like others, asked not to be named when discussing the president's thinking.”

From the Washington Post’s Sridhar Pappu, The New Phrase Of the Iraq War: Bush's 'Return On Success': “Even before President Bush took to the airwaves Thursday evening, one of those mysterious unnamed "senior administration officials" explained the principle in a news briefing: "The more we succeed, the more troops we can bring home from Iraq. The president calls this policy 'return on success,' and that will be a major emphasis of the speech."” Very mysterious. They were standing in the James S. Brady briefing room, and were introduced by Tony Snow. Well, not introduced, because he didn’t say their fucking names, so I suppose they were mysterious indeed.

At least Bryan Bender wrote in the Boston Globe (Bush to cut 20,000 troops), “The officials, who briefed reporters earlier in the day on the condition of anonymity...” Similarly, from David S. Cloud in the New York Times, (Number of Soldiers to Be Left in Iraq Remains Unclear): “"It’s not a fixed number, because things change over time," said a senior administration official, briefing reporters before the speech on the condition of anonymity.” I think the fact that it was a briefing was, I don’t know, important? Although I still think it should be made clear that it was an official anonymous briefing, and that it was the White House that made the request for anonymity.

Oh, yes.

Happy Constitution Day. Americans all, rejoice.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

Can you explain why the anonymity matters? Is the propaganda more or less effective if the source is given a name?

I think there are multiple layers to unpack here. There are probably good reasons why an administration should not rely on anonymity to push their agenda. There are probably good reasons why an official should not demand anonymity. There are probably good reasons why the media should not grant that anonymity. All of those actions should have consequences -- public distrust of an administration and particular officials who hide behind anonymity, media distrust of their sources, public distrust of the media. But if those consequences don't exist, for example if there is no more trust to be lost and no interest in regaining those trusts, then I'm not sure what the other arguments are against the anonymity.

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