Monday, September 25, 2006

Presidents Are People Too

I’ve been confronted lately with the idea that George Bush is a person, with feelings, thoughts and opinions that together create a cohesive personality that is somehow relevant to understanding the dangerous world he has helped to create. As the press becomes slightly more engaged and starts asking some serious questions about not only the policies of this administration, but of the ramifications of their actions to this point, I’ve noticed a recurring narrative popping up that together with the criticism, seeks to humanize George Bush.

On the plane to California I started reading Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s new book Hubris, but I had to put it down after the first few pages because I simply couldn’t believe what I was reading. It took too much suspension of disbelief for me to accept that GWB invaded Iraq because he doesn’t like “motherfuckers who gas their own people” and “assholes who lie to the world”. Besides, the irony was too much to bear.

Then I read a Washington Post article this morning that attempted to do much the same thing. What has changed? Why is it so important now to humanize Bush while highlighting his policy failures? Are we to understand that it is his personal failings that have contributed to the world uniting against us, the erosion of our moral authority and the tanking of our own economy? Is that supposed to make his disastrous war that has made the world less stable, easier to swallow?

Since I have never really considered George Bush to be the brains behind the operation, I guess it’s possible to believe he’s just a flawed and damaged person who has allowed himself to be used as the “face” of an administration that he couldn’t control if he tried. Do I think we went into Iraq because of a personal and visceral hatred that Bush had for Saddam? Not in the slightest, but I might be willing to believe that it could be why Bush thinks we did. Unless, of course, believing that in any way absolves him of culpability. He’s the President and the buck stops there.

I am able to think of Bush as a puppet and as a little tyrant that those around him (Cheney, Wolfowitz and Perle to name a few) coddle and cater to in a way that allows him to believe he’s in charge. But these men, much stronger in personality, ideology and commitment to dogma, know just how to get Bush to do exactly what they want. Even if Bush was duped by the neo-con lunatics he chose to surround himself with, he’s still guilty in my mind, there is no absolution for willful ignorance, reckless behavior and incompetence that puts others at risk, not that he’s asking for it anyway.

If traditional media feel the need to connect Bush’s policy failures to his flawed personality, they should go right ahead, but I’m not buying it. There are plenty of damaged people in prison that had fucked up childhoods, and while that can be considered in the penalty phase as mitigating circumstances, it is not relevant to their guilt or innocence. It doesn’t matter why he pushed an illegal invasion of a sovereign nation, tortured prisoners in violation of Geneva Conventions, violated our constitution and sent thousands of young people to die in a war of choice, the fact is he did. Being a simple minded, malleable, incompetent doesn’t change that.


Anonymous lester said...

is bush from Queensbridge? he sounds totally thugged out. "yo saddam hussein talkin some crazy space shit that don't make no sense"

4:11 PM  
Anonymous david said...

It is very important now to present Bush to the American public as flawed but human because he has admitted to committing War Crimes.

The bill being argued before Congress this week that will try to legalize both Gitmo's military tribunals and the "rough" interrogation treatments also contains a clause exempting all "official" torture committed since 9/11.

Previous Commanders-in-Chief have cooked up plausible deniabilty or arranged for someone to 'take the fall'. But Bush has admitted to knowing the torture happened, approved of the torture, and wants the torture to continue. Any case against him on War Crimes would be "a slam dunk".

The USA has made over 100 Bilateral Immunity Agreements to prevent Americans wanted by the International Criminal Court from being handed over. This undermines Bush's claim to want to bring evildoers to justice. (And the lack of BIA with many European countries always puts a crimp in Henry Kissinger's travel plans.)

Unfortunately for Mr. Diablo, laws providing blanket amnesty for war crimes are not recognized by international law. Bush may be the first US president unable to travel beyond this curious list of nations.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous kindlingman said...

david is quite correct. Congressional laws will be irrelevant in any international court.
The Supreme Court will shoot down any domestic congressional 'torture is allowed' laws and any 'get out of jail free' cards.
As far as humanizing Bush, the opinion all along has been that Bush is flawed. Extremely so.
President Bush is the worst president in history. He has failed at everything he has tried while President. His peformance as President falls below our standards no matter how low we set them.

7:13 PM  
Blogger isabelita said...

Nope. He's no puppet, no stooge: Bush is doing the job that was proposed to him, being the moronic front man. It must be hell for him to have to go the distance, not being able to be bailed out by his daddy or anyone else. Not able to slough it off and go be a rich layabout, what he was brought up to be.
Cheney the loser, Rummy the loony -
Bush, the lowest common denominator. America's finest, for the common American loser to aspire to.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

To illuminate a politicians personal flaws, in conjunction with legislative errors, is an effective campaign strategy. Indeed, a discussion of George W. Bush’s inability to successfully govern, due to his character weaknesses, thus allowing himself to be maneuvered into creating domestic and foreign policies; is a successful strategy being employed by both the Democratic National Committee, as well as the various press agencies. To humanize George W. Bush not only provides ammunition for those who challenge this administrations policies, but also for those who feel it necessary to defeat the “cult of personality” surrounding the Bush dynasty. The “left” must highlight the character flaws of those they wish to defeat, only accomplished through humanizing the other person; which can also effectively engender a discussion on failed policy. In effect, to discuss this administrations failed policies here and abroad is lacking, President Bush must also be called to task for his lack of humility, absence of critical thinking, and his many other flaws as a person.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

2:37 PM  

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