Bush should hold more press conferences, to provide us with ever more windows into the mind of one of the most dangerous men ever to occupy the White House.
Why must we watch? We don’t want to end up like pathetic George — blind to reality, muttering clichés, oblivious to the wreckage and evil for which he is responsible. We need to know the truth, and the truth that this man is dangerous came out in spades in his press conference.
Why is he dangerous? He is willfully ignorant of what is going on in Iraq but cocksure that not only is he doing the right thing, but that God is blessing and directing his every decision, even to the point that he imagines himself to be infallible (or, rather, if he is not infallible, he cannot generate any evidence of fallibility when asked).
Why is he one of the most dangerous? Because he autocratically heads the most powerful and well-armed state in the history of the world. He not only has his finger on the button. He has access to many thousands of weapons of mass destruction, and has shown himself to be willing to use them against anyone he regards as a foe. By comparison to his predecessor in the White House, Bush is alarming, the kind of president who seems capable of blowing up the world and calling it good.
Let them live out their fantasies of death and dominion with toys rather than the real world.
(I know that articles like this are supposed to be dispassionate in order to be more persuasive. I am supposed to recite the facts without rhetoric to provide a kind of slowly burning buildup in order to convert those who think George is nothing but a godly man heading the free world’s efforts to protect itself against barbaric enemies. But the situation in which we live is so desperate, it seems to call forth more frank talk. People who are still defending George don’t need patient argument; they need shock therapy.)
If you doubt that what I say here is true, see the transcript. In much of what he says, he gets the truth exactly backwards in ways that anyone who reads the news can discern. He admits (for the first time?) that the US is militarily occupying Iraq but claims that those who resist are rejecting “freedom” and “self government.” This is like the rapist giving sermons on the need to respect the physical integrity and dignity of his victims.
The occupier who announces to the people through a bullhorn “Submit or Die!” has some chutzpah claiming to be a liberator. This is beyond Orwell. It’s evil, crazy, or both. The officer who said this ought to have his badges of rank ripped off. The president who ignores this ought to be impeached. The politicians who are ablaze in the face of it ought to be voted out of office. Websites that reviewed that speech the way they review a movie or play (yes, that’s you NRO) ought to suffer everlasting disgrace.
We must first deal with the problem that George seems genuinely mad. There was a riddle in nearly every sentence. He spoke like someone dramatically out of touch with what everyone else knows. The whole scene was a bit wacky, as if the uncle who everyone knows is crazy came to the family reunion and was humored because he is family. People were going easy on George just because he seemed like he was speaking about another planet.
Now, here we have a “war” that has proven to be a complete calamity in every conceivable way. The blood and violence are ghastly. It started as a war for democracy and American values and it is ending in body bags, a radicalized population, hundreds of billions wasted, and an emboldened horde of terrorists from all countries. The original rationales for the war are proven hoaxes. The soldiers hate it. The Iraqis hate the soldiers. US trained Iraqis are AWOL. We are talking here about a war disaster of historic proportions, even for the aggressor state.
The press, though, seemed somehow reluctant to point this out, as if George had his finger on a button he could push that would blow them all up. Instead, the press, very gingerly, put him on the couch. What mistakes had he made? Are there things he would do differently? Just asking, George. Not hinting at a thing. Don’t take this wrong. Just a normal sort of question every president is asked. Do you think there have been any judgment errors at all? Everyone makes mistakes, you know; nothing to be ashamed of.
Nope, said George, nothing he can think of. It was almost cartoonish. But in real life, it is extremely scary. The press was evidently confused by the whole scene, their eyes darting back and forth to each other in bemusement. The efforts to report on the event the next day were similarly strained. The headlines could have run: “President Bush Has Gone Off the Rails.” But since press etiquette demands he be treated with great deference, the stories were all variations of: “George Bush today pledged to continue the offensive in Iraq, while denying his administration has made errors in judgment…”
George isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last crazy president. Power tends to do this to people. The sin of mass murder also does it. It makes them callous, nuts, dangerous. The answer is not to replace him with Kerry, or Clinton, or Carter, or some other person who seems more peaceful in some way. Bush also seemed rather peaceful during the election.
The urgent moral priority of our time is to dismantle the warfare state, disarm the nukes, roll back the empire from every corner of the globe. We want to live in a country even a crazy man can head and not have it be dangerous for us or the world. If George or his successors want to play violent games, someone could just bring them a set of plastic army men and they could have at it all day in the West Wing. Let them live out their fantasies of death and dominion with toys rather than the real world.