Isn’t There an Exam or Something?

The Bush attention deficit is attracting some unfavourable comment again. It’s a bit late now, but there you go.

Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post for one.

George W. Bush, the most resolutely incurious and inflexible of presidents, was reported last week to have been surprised at seeing Iraqi citizens — who ought to be grateful beneficiaries of the American occupation, I mean “liberation” — demonstrating in support of Hezbollah and against Israel. Surprise would be a start, since it would mean the Decider was admitting novel facts to his settled base of knowledge and reacting to them. Alas, it seems the door to the presidential mind is still locked tight…Even conservatives have begun openly assessing the president’s intellect, especially its impermeability to new information…The president was asked yesterday whether the failure of the U.S.-backed “unity” government to stem the orgy of sectarian carnage disappoints him, and he said that no, it didn’t. How, I wonder, is that possible?…[D]o 3,438 deaths really just roll off his back after he’s had his workout and a nice bike ride?

Well…frankly, yes; at least, as far as anyone can tell from out here. He doesn’t pay attention, he doesn’t let in new information, and he doesn’t care. That’s been obvious all along, and now that it’s much too late even some Republicans are noticing. (Actually some Republicans noticed quite awhile ago. I know rock-ribbed Republicans who voted for Kerry, because they’d noticed.)

Fred Kaplan in Slate also notices.

Among the many flabbergasting answers that President Bush gave at his press conference on Monday, this one – about Democrats who propose pulling out of Iraq – triggered the steepest jaw drop: “I would never question the patriotism of somebody who disagrees with me. This has nothing to do with patriotism. It has everything to do with understanding the world in which we live.” George W. Bush criticizing someone for not understanding the world is like … well, it’s like George W. Bush criticizing someone for not understanding the world.

Not to mention the part about not questioning the patriotism (or loyalty) of people who disagree with him. That’s a real thigh-slapper.

[Bush:] “What’s very interesting about the violence in Lebanon and the violence in Iraq and the violence in Gaza is this: These are all groups of terrorists who are trying to stop the advance of democracy.”…The key reality that Bush fails to grasp is that terrorism and democracy are not opposites. They can, and sometimes do, coexist. One is not a cure for the other.

Well, Bush, like a lot of people, seems to mean by ‘democracy’ just ‘being like us’ or ‘doing things the good way.’ So naturally he does think it’s the opposite of terrorism. It would be better if a man in such a powerful position had a somewhat more informed idea of the word, but he doesn’t seem to.

As for Iraq, it’s no news that Bush has no strategy. What did come as news – and, really, a bit of a shocker – is that he doesn’t seem to know what “strategy” means. Asked if it might be time for a new strategy in Iraq, given the unceasing rise in casualties and chaos, Bush replied, “The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and dreams, which is a democratic society. That’s the strategy…The reporter followed up, “Sir, that’s not really the question. The strategy – ” Bush interrupted, “Sounded like the question to me.”…”[H]elping Iraqis achieve a democratic society” may be a strategic objective, but it’s not a strategy – any more than “ending poverty” or “going to the moon” is a strategy…Could it be that he doesn’t grasp the distinction between an “objective” and a “strategy,” and so doesn’t see that there might be alternatives? Might our situation be that grim?

Oh, yes. Easily. He doesn’t grasp most distinctions – he’s not that kinda guy. Again, that’s been obvious all along. He’s The Decider, sadly, but he’s not a thinker. He doesn’t have the right skills for the job. That ought to have prevented him from ever even making it into the primaries, but unhappily our system doesn’t work that way. I think that’s bottomlessly unfortunate.

7 Responses to “Isn’t There an Exam or Something?”