Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Inside Bush's brain

I was talking to some friends the other day about our president. Among Bush opponents, some people think he's evil and mean, and some that he's just incompetent. I'm in the second group...I fear that Bush is very bad for the country, but I don't think he's evil.

This interview gives Molly Ivins' opinion on the subject. She's from Texas and has been aquainted with GWB since they were both in high school. I usually don't much like Molly Ivins, but her analysis here rings true to me. An excerpt:

BUZZFLASH: Jim Moore, in his book "Bush's Brain," argues that, yes, obviously there is a real terrorist threat to this country. But the war was fashioned with a political objective in mind.

IVINS: Yes, the origins of the war seem ever more obscure. I mean, the more you try to get to exactly why we were driven into this thing, the more confusing it becomes. But again, I think, you know -– look, Bush was hit with September 11th. That changed everything. That reverses policies, and got him into things he never thought he'd be doing, like nation-building. He actually turned around and became a multi-lateralist for a period of about five months, until we had won in Afghanistan. And then he went back to the previous unilateralist approach that's really irking me alive.

I think it's much too easy to say it's all political calculations. It seems to me that what you have is a group of people who are reinforcing one another's prejudices and not accepting information from outside their inner loop. And they would be the obvious suspects, including Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et cetera, et cetera. And of all of them, I suspect that Cheney has the most influence. Of course, I say that simply because Bush's pattern has been to adopt an older male mentor as he enters each new field. He had an older mentor in baseball, and he had an older mentor in Texas politics.

And it seems to me that Cheney is the guy who he listens to. But I do –- I think all of them form a tight, self-reinforcing circle. And they're committing the ultimate political folly, which is not listening to people who don't agree with them. I think they equate dissension with disloyalty. And with the Bushes, both father and son, loyalty has always been considered THE primary virtue.

BUZZFLASH: Switching gears a bit, is the caricature of Bush as sort of an airhead an accurate one?

IVINS: No. I think I've said this several thousand times in my life. George W. Bush is not stupid, and he's not mean. You know, it is possible to really independently disagree with a politician's policies without personally hating him. You know, grownups can do that. [laugh] It's feasible, believe me.

You don't have to turn into, you know, the liberal equivalent of the Clinton hater in order to think that this guy's just completely screwing up the country. No, he's not stupid. He is very limited, however.

It's not stupidity as much as ignorance, and his inability and unwillingness to learn. He's not very curious. And it's not a first-rate mind. I mean, you get him to a certain point in a discussion, and if you ever hear him talk about "my instinct" or "my gut tells me," then you know we're in trouble. Then you know we have left the realm of facts and logic and where we're going is something else altogether.


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