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.