Thursday, October 05, 2006

Why W is such a nightmare

By Heraclitus

"George Bush has the satisfied arrogance of the privileged and the dangerous obstinacy of the incompetent. He personifies a retrograde provincialism."


-- Francois Loncle (2000)

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That's a quote from a French Socialist during the 2000 presidential campaign. I think it pretty much says it all, about as precisely and succintly as possible (another small reminder of our debt to Blaise Pascal). But, just to be even-handed, and to put the point in our own more familiar political idiom, I'm also going to quote Alan Keyes, although only from memory. I remember in an interview, during his campaign for the GOP nomination in 2000, Keyes said something like, "All I'm asking people to do is to take a look at George W. Bush, listen to him speak. And I ask you, Does this seem like someone who has ever had to make a serious moral decision in his life? Does this seem like someone who has ever had to take a real stand, to really sacrifice something, to make a genuinely difficult decision? And if he hasn't yet, why would he start now? And is this really the situation to trust that he will?"

W spent the first half or thereabouts of his adult life in a bottle. Of course, the pack of mindless hyenas we have for a press corps treated this as a possible scandal. Rumors of cocaine use were everywhere, and the question was whether it could be proved. What people should have been discussing is how utterly fantastic it is that someone should spend his entire adult life until 40 or so being a party boy, then somehow fall into a series of sweatheart deals that made him millions of dollars, and shortly after that be elected governor of the second largest state in the U.S. Such a thing would obviously be impossible for anyone else. W's reality principle is, to say the least, underdeveloped.

And so when Iraq began to descend into chaos, W cleared shrub, and briefly stood in front of some cameras, displaying less gravitas than when describing how he had wiped out on his dirt bike. When Katrina hit, he played a guitar and joked about how much he used to enjoy getting loaded in New Orleans. Or let's recall that, in 2000, people said that while he may not have been top drawer in the brains, gravitas, or experience department, he would get good people and listen to them. Ah, yes. Harriet Miers, anyone? Or how about George "Slam Dunk" Tenet, whom W continued to defend after it was clear he had botched his job horribly. Donald "Stuff Happens" Rumsfeld? Actually, wait -- that should be Donald "Abu Ghraib" Rumsfeld. Alberto Gonzalez writes a memo advocating torture, and gets elevated to AG (and we now know this was no mistake). And who hasn't enjoyed the John Bolton show? (Well, pretty much everyone who's had to work for him and everyone else in the world. It turns out the guy is a narrow-minded hothead who is always wrong.) Paul Wolfowitz, telling us how the Iraqis will throw flowers at our feet and treat us as liberators, and that Iraqi oil will pay for the occupation? And, of course, who could forget Michael Brown -- oh, wait, it turns out that Brownie was indeed doing a heck of a job, and it was, once again, primarily W's fecklessness that was so disasterous (not that W has ever owned up to it, or even given any sign that he understands what actually happened).

Recall, on the other hand, the smear campaigns against Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill. Compare these two to Miers or Gonzalez, and it's obvious, as so many others have noted, that all that matters to W is personal loyalty. The point I'm stressing here is not that W is an ideologue, although he obviously is, but that he is unfit to govern as a person. I, at least, tend to think that a Jeb Bush presidency would have been vastly superior to the debacle we've gotten, not because Jeb is all that much more moderate, but because he's had to work with reality for his entire life.

And this brings us to the sorry spectacle of torture. Why are we surprised that a man who mocked a condemned woman is pro-torture? In his childish little mind, there are good guys and bad guys, and you can do whatever you want to the bad guys. That also explains, by the way, his truly butt-ugly smear campaign against McCain in SC in 2000. This is someone who can't begin to grasp the principles being violated. He does, indeed,
combine the satisfied arrogance of the privileged and the dangerous obstinacy of the incompetent, and the damage he has done to America in six years is immeasurable.

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