Monday, August 30, 2004

The Rise of the 'C' Student

Interesting article in this a.m.'s NYTimes about El Presidente's "management style," which gets to this unnamed former Bush official in about the 12th paragraph: "A former White House official who worked for Bush for more than two years -- and left in disappointment at the neglect of domestic policy -- said the president had a 'workmanlike' approach to governing that brought 'no curiosity, no policy fire.' 'With argument comes refinement, and there was none of that,' said the official, who declined to be named to avoid ending his contacts with Bush's inner circle. 'It's fine to say he's a big-picture leader and doesn't get bogged down in the details. But that's another way of saying he's lazy -- not physically lazy, but intellectually lazy.' "

Maybe intellectually lazy but also commendably decisive, right? That's the PR on him among his true believers, a line of belief that does not stand up to too much scrutiny: "Bush has allowed crises to fester. Bush has never resolved deep disagreements within his war cabinet about how to deal with North Korea, with the result that the isolated nation, which had appeared close to a missile deal with the Clinton administration, has quadrupled its stockpile of nuclear weapons, from two to eight, during Bush's tenure."

But we've been programmed by 24-hour TV News to accept that Iraq was the nuclear threat, not North Korea, while the reality of North Korea (and the reality of Iraq, too, for that matter) should be making all of us mighty apprehensive. There ARE consequences to willful ignorance.

Student Bush, did you study for your test? The president told Woodward in "Bush at War": "I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel I owe anybody an explanation."

Not feeling you owe anybody an explanation -- when your course of action is based on news filtered to you through a Palace Guard with a big ideological axe to grind -- leads to sad admissions, like the one he gave the New York Times last Friday (and which hasn't been much reported on in the press): Bush said he made a "miscalculation of what the conditions would be" in postwar Iraq.

We doubt that there was any calcuation at all by the cowboy who planned on riding into Baghdad whooping and hollering like the posse in "Blazing Saddles." And Bush has admitted to Time magazine that he failed to plan for a speedy victory in Iraq, describing the sudden collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime as a "catastrophic success."

He was probably absent from class that day at Yale when the professor discussed oxymoron, but he might want to look up the word now.

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