Tuesday, October 19, 2004

No Doubt

An article in the New York Times Magazine Sunday by Ron Suskind entitled "Without a Doubt" is perhaps the most appropriate thing we could draw your attention to in this run up to Halloween. The content of Suskind's article is the scariest thing we have read in months, maybe years! Here's a short excerpt from it:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

You need to read the whole article even though it is long. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/17BUSH.html?pagewanted=1&oref=login.

Suskind's article describes the genesis of this absolutely amazing notion in the Billy Graham wrought conversion of George Bush and in the pedagogical approach the Harvard Business School to business analysis. We are not going to fault Rev. Graham or the HBS; they are both well-known and so are their faults and peccadillos. These twin influences, however, like certain chemicals that when mixed have amazing results, created a George Bush whose tolerance for discussion and for unpleasant facts is so small as to be terrifying to the rest of us mere mortals.

What Suskind leaves out of his analysis is the influence of Dick Cheney on George. We, of course, are not privy to the actual conversations between these two, but the past four years of press reports and comments from within by senior White House staffers indicate that the man the Guardian recently called "barking mad" and a former Republican Governor of Minnesota called "an evil man" has a huge influence over George. We assume that Dick sets the agenda and George acts out the front man role, as he did with "his" baseball team years ago.

The United States is not an empire, or at least no longer an empire. We are a very homogenous continental nation, the territory of which was accrued through "empire building." We are not even a commercial empire. How could we be with trade deficits soaring into the stratosphere! We are clearly the last of the 20th century super powers, but as we know, there are real limitations on superpowers on the ground in hostile territory. We do not stand astride a prostrate planet that cowers at the mere mention of our name. The vast majority of us do not even want to be any of these things.

So, it all the more hair-raising that "senior Presidential Advisors" believe that we have entered a new era in which the American Presidency stands above history and directs it as if the rest of us were mere Balinese puppets! The word "hubris" itself pales at the necessity of describing the Bush administration, yet what label of megalomania shall we pin on this new autocracy? We think that the best bet is to remove these madmen from office as swiftly and surely as possible and let the next generation of historians deal with the labels.