Saturday, October 23, 2004

 

Favorite Article of the Week

Every week, I received 'Harvard Independent Weekly' which I subscribed to online and I find their articles witty, funny, sacarstic and well-written. This week, they have a nice array of interesting articles and I would like to share one of my favorite one with you. Here is the copy:

Bush: Hero or zero?
The secret dual life of George W. Bush


When asked if our President is a "hero," I start to get nostalgic visions of Jeff Foxworthy: "If you think Bush is a hero, you might just be a redneck." I can't honestly say he is. What's more useful, though, is to examine the larger, more vocal minority of voters who consider him the Anti-Christ - or, to keep it secular, the Anti-Hero.Look closely at our President's image among his opponents, and you'll find not one, but two George W. Bushes. First is the one we're all probably more familiar with: the bumbling nincompoop who needs a microphone on his back during a debate so he can answer "I don't know" to the question of whether homosexuality is a choice or not in the third Presidential debate. I'll call him "Bush Tush." Bush Tush is the pawn of cynical, manipulative class interests - just the pretty face for a malicious force which has killed over 1,000 American women and children in some vague attempt to help the oil company Halliburton. He's the archetypal Dark Side Republican who's too rich to care about AIDS in America, the obvious effects of tax cuts on the poor, or the plight of gay Americans.

Then there's the second, more aggressive edition, which I'll call "Bush Push." This version is a man of character, religious belief, and stubbornness. He's the guy who invaded Iraq as a part of an explicit "Crusade" against Muslims (or maybe to avenge his father - whichever), the one who flies around in a jet plane and declares "Mission Accomplished." This man desperately wants to be a hero.Just this Sunday, in fact, Ron Suskind mentioned this very theory in the New York Times Magazine when he dissected Bush's "preternatural, faith-infused certainty in uncertain times." According to Bush Push theory, if you disagree with the President, it's because he is too morally egotistic, self-assured, and preoccupied with the eternal to listen to your obviously superior arguments. He's still not too smart - that part keeps resurfacing - but at least he's his own man.It is hard to see how these two views are compatible. Can Bush be entirely beholden to the propertied elite while at the same time holding firm to the bedrock tenants of the Christian faith that helped him be "born again"? Sure, those interests might have coincided in Iraq, but it's implausible to suggest he held both Halliburton and Jesus Christ in his mind simultaneously as he ordered Operation Enduring Freedom, not to mention his thousand other decisions as President.

So the question remains: is Bush a cynic or a zealot? And if he's both, when is he one and not the other?Actually, neither conception is accurate - at least no more than they are in describing Kerry. To get a glimpse of this, look first at what these two versions have in common: the President's idiocy. True, Bush fails to grasp basic political facts, especially in the international arena. For example, Suskind quotes the President as claiming that Sweden has no standing army. But is Kerry any better? The senator, to be sure, is a published writer on public policy, and he embarrassed the President with details on issues ranging from homeland defense to tax cuts. That didn't stop him, however, from ignorantly asserting during the third presidential debate that a parental consent provision in any abortion law would force a girl raped by her father to ask his permission to terminate her pregnancy. (Somehow I think rape leads to forfeiture of parental rights.) Nor did it restrain him from claiming Americans are losing jobs because foreign countries aren't "playing by the rules." Kerry, as is his wont, toned down that position in the debates, but that doesn't erase his mistake. If Bush blithely ignores unpleasant realities, the senator blatantly distorts them.Or how about the main principle of the Bush Tush argument - that the President is a spoiled pawn of special interests and political expedience, and someone who is unconcerned about real Americans? Obviously true to an extent, but so it is for Kerry. He's taken shots at No Child Left Behind (after voting for it) at the behest of teachers' lobby, taken a trial lawyer as his Vice-Presidential candidate, and talked smack about free trade for the unionists. As for concern for the underprivileged, Kerry opposes the individual right of gay marriage, even though on abortion - a slightly safer position for a liberal - he claims he doesn't wish to impose his Catholicism on anyone else. And lest we forget, Kerry is also filthy, filthy rich. The fact that he subscribes to a theory of a paternalistic state doesn't necessarily make him any more class-conscious than Bush.Lastly, we come to the Bush Push hypothesis. Recall the argument that Bush is too damnably dogmatic to ever admit he is wrong. Proponents of this idea point to the second debate, in which Bush was asked to talk about any mistakes he made as President. He failed to mention a single one. But that isn't surprising: politicians don't like admitting their faults. Kerry, for his part, now calls his earlier pro-war stance as an error in the way he "spoke about" the conflict, as if three months of campaigning were suddenly nothing more than a slip of the tongue.The attacks on Bush's character and intellect, the attempts to paint him as our country's Anti-Christ, are much too simplistic. Nobody claims Bush is our hero. But, excepting his Vietnam service, no one should mistake John Kerry for one either.

These hysterical liberal conspiracy theories to explain why Bush can be such a very, very bad man lack the same nuance Kerry's supporters like to boast about. They take for granted that he has already lost on substantive issues, which he hasn't. And big-picture ideas, not hagiographies, are what eventually decide elections.

Christopher Re's '06 (re@fas) favorite response to bullies as a kid was, "I know I am, but so are you."

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