Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bush--The Decider

by Richard Crews
George W. Bush was not a deep thinker. He had no head for complex and counterbalancing arguments. (He acknowledged this about himself.) He was elected on soundbites, political rabble-rousing, and psychologically savvy advertising with big corporate money.

Once elected, he thought his deficiency of careful cognitive skills didn't really matter. He thought that by the time a question got to the president's desk, it was too subtle and complicated, too speculative and debatable, to have a "right" or even "best" answer. He saw his role as "the decider"--he thought that at the end of the day, someone had to roll the dice and that, as president, he had been designated to do that.

He also, for the same reasons--deficiency of cognitive skills--favored short-term actions to longer-term, strategic thinking.

As a result--

--We got preemptive war--a novel twist to long-standing international principles of national sovereignty, which is survivable, I guess, when you are the one and only super-power but devilishly difficult to contain as the world turns.

--We got condoned torture--with poor consideration for its moral decrepitude, its psychological ineffectiveness, and its implications for the treatment our troops might get in enemy hands in the future.

--We got abridgment of civil rights--secret wire-taps, secret prisons, loss of habeas corpus and due process rights and, because of all this and more, a hard push down the slippery slope toward tyranny.

--We got escalating deregulation of finance and business--and the worst global financial meltdown in 80 years.

--We got politicized interpretation of science--deferral of serious consideration of the dangers of global warming, of the potential for genetic therapies, and of the cultural and financial importance of green energy.

--We got failure of careful interpretation of international intelligence--NO, Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction; and, NO, we did not consider the difficulties of nation building when dictators fall.

--We got arm-waving (and arms-waving) diplomacy--the "Axis of Evil," attempted international isolation of Iran, North Korea, etc.

--We got fiscal mismanagement--unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy, and huge (historically unprecedented) federal deficits.

--We got nepotism and political favoritism in the highest appointed offices.


The Republicans, in disgraced retreat, decided on a desperate political strategy: fire-brand distortions and obstruction to any and all processes of government. They spawned Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and the like.

They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The American populace are fundamentally gullible and hysterical. (As H. L. Mencken said, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.")

Now the question is whether the Republicans will help try to get the toothpaste back into the tube.