"Naturally the common people don't want war...but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
-- Hermann Goering
W's 4-year appointment does not come with a guarantee of another term. This is what aggrieved his father a decade ago. Can you imagine the conversation then? A victorious war president denied re-election? The gall.
Possibly the only way W will be remembered as smarter than his father is in his sense of timing. He suffers not from the patrician burden of public service. He has no illusions that the public will reward his righteous service. It is up to him to make sure they benefit from his guidance for the longest possible time. This is what he calls leadership.
The problem is that he's not terribly bright. He's not even of average intelligence. Can you conceive of a smart leader surrounding himself with such obviously shark-like folks as "advisors"? He just doesn't appreciate that theirs is the only real agenda.
W is an earnest man. He wasn't always, we know, but walks the talk now. He genuinely doesn't understand why people don't like him. He's a lovable guy by nearly all first-person accounts. This is part of the problem. I think his comfort with his "axis of evil advisors" comes from believing no one would manipulate him so blatantly.
It is not true that most conservatives are stupid.
It is, however, true that most stupid people are conservative.
-- H. L. Mencken
This point is clear in his disdain for our intelligence.
Consider what he's asked us to believe:
- Iraq is a seething haven for Al Qaeda and their ilk. The CIA won't even back him up on this. And will we now invade Pakistan or Indonesia?
- Iraq is a threat b/c of its weapons of mass destruction. This is the worst. If they are so dangerous, why wait until now? Why grovel at the UN? Why announce your intentions? Put more simply: either they just aren't as dangerous as he says, or he was treasonously negligent in waiting this long.
- We must bring democracy to the Middle East When we invade Saudi Arabia (lest we forget, home to the overwhelming majority of 9/11 conspirators), I'll take him seriously. Besides, the idea that the same man who wanted to short-circuit democracy in FL can lecture anyone is bound to backfire. Colin Powell can barely keep a straight face when he argues this point.
- I don't think this is about oil. W knows there's plenty of the crude stuff in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. We just need the will to go get it. Maybe a global disruption of supply would help? What could disrupt the flow of mid-east oil ...?
- I don't think this is about revenge for 9/11. W may still feel angry, but the vultures that sit on his shoulders are quite pleased with the opportunity to further rape the middle-class. They couldn't care one iota about anyone's vengeance. The windfall to their interests will be a generational high-water mark. Theirs, not ours.
- I don't think this is about American security. Anyone with half a brain could really fuck up almost any US city. Starving Iraqis aren't the real threat. Half-wits from Wyoming who want to dismantle the federal government are quite dangerous enough. Even the ones who aren't vice-president.
- I don't think we'll be safer. This follows like the setting sun. The steps necessary to be truly safe would rile even the great herds of sheep currently backing W. How many more times will you pay attention as the national terror alert level is changed to lavender? It will, however, pave the way for lots more incursions into those civil liberties that conservatives have been itchy about since Earl Warren first risked impeachment for realizing our American ideals.
I think W (and I increasingly think of him as a composite personality with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and Wolfowitz) has one over-riding goal: election in '04. That and a hefty slice of the $75 billion war largesse.
W is trying so hard to earn our respect and support. Trouble is, we send so many mixed signals...
- We're ungrateful for his rollback of environmental regulations.
- We have grave misgivings about putting the foxes in charge of the hens on wall street.
- We still want to be free to cherish the illusion of privacy from government spying.
- We want the world not to hate us (any more than they already do).
- We still can't tell a compassionate conservative from a regular conservative.
- We want the nation to move forward. Not fall back.
Just what do we want?
More obvious (in hindsight) observations:
- It's our fault. In general Americans get the government they deserve. This tough-love is part of our system. Don't vote? Can't read the ballot? Can't afford the poll tax? Like Ralph Nader? You are out of luck, my friend.
- It's our fault. We want security more than we want freedom. This takes many forms.
- We still believe in a world so big that we can hide out, safe from the bad guys. Especially when we abuse, exploit and poison them from afar (not us, per se, but our proxies at the multinationals we own). But we are insecure enough to tolerate the government wanting to know the details of our private lives.
- We want to make all entertainment safe for all children, ignoring the fact that they will just grow up to hate us for removing the flavor from life. Ice floes will be too good for us.
- Of course there'll be plenty to go around. Our insistence on short-term convenience will slowly make our lives hell. Fossil fuels will change our climate just enough to upset the apple cart we have all jumped on in hope of an easier journey. I'm just glad I know how to swim.
I explain things thus: Democrats have too much compassion. Republicans not enough. I know which end of that scale I belong on.
It makes me sad to think the only way I can feel connected to the people of my country is to share blame for our sorry state of affairs. But so be it.