Bush's blinky resolution last night pretty much freaked me out. What annoyed me most about his performance was that someone asked him directly 'does the success of an iraq invasion depend on capturing or killing saddam hussein?' and he wouldn't answer the question, and dilated endlessly with empty rhetoric:
Q Mr. President, good evening. If you order war, can any military operation be considered a success if the United States does not capture Saddam Hussein, as you once said, dead or alive?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope we don't have to go to war, but if we go to war, we will disarm Iraq. And if we go to war, there will be a regime change. And replacing this cancer inside of Iraq will be a government that represents the rights of all the people, a government which represents the voices of the Shia and Sunni and the Kurds.
We care about the suffering of the Iraqi people. I mentioned in my opening comments that there's a lot of food ready to go in. There's something like 55,000 oil-for-food distribution points in Iraq. We know where they are. We fully intend to make sure that they're -- got ample food. We know where their hospitals are; we want to make sure they've got ample medical supplies. The life of the Iraqi citizen is going to dramatically improve.
Q Sir, I'm sorry, is success contingent upon capturing or killing Saddam Hussein, in your mind?
THE PRESIDENT: We will be changing the regime of Iraq, for the good of the Iraqi people.
It was such a carefully 'on-message' performance as to be scary. When a reporter asked Clinton a question, he had paragraphs, nay volumes, behind his every answer. George W Bush is always exactly one ply deep.
And that's what's really creeping me out -- W's success with the American people comes precisely from the One-Ply nature of how he thinks. He's a guy who never internally says 'but what about ...' to himself -- he has a set of opinions and positions about the world that he takes entirely at face value. Now those opinions are formed by his surrounding coterie of ex-cold-warrior, machiavellian spooks, who aren't that naive or earnest, but he takes it all at face value, and turns in at 10pm without watching the late news.
But to a lot of Americans, that's such an alluring picture. They've lived through the world since the Vietnam and Watergate, where so much of what is REALLY going on happens in the shadows, where you can't trust the government, you can't trust the president, and they're DYING to go back to the world where the villains have EVIL tatooed on their foreheads, and you can take righteous glee in blowing their malignant asses straight to hell.
In that respect Dubya is kind of Reagan Lite. Like Reagan, his approach of putting ideology over any sort of scientific, rational analysis of difficult problems is going to drive us straight into the maw of a horror beyond imagining. And he'll do it all with a vague smile on his face, furrowing his brow and blinking rapidly.
And if you aren't sold on my argument, check this shit:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. As you know, not everyone shares your optimistic vision of how this might play out. Do you ever worry, maybe in the wee, small hours, that you might be wrong and they might be right in thinking that this could lead to more terrorism, more anti-American sentiment, more instability in the Middle East?
THE PRESIDENT: Hutch, I think, first of all, it's hard to envision more terror on America than September the 11th, 2001. We did nothing to provoke that terrorist attack. It came upon us because there's an enemy which hates America. They hate what we stand for. We love freedom and we're not changing. And, therefore, so long as there's a terrorist network like al Qaeda, and others willing to fund them, finance them, equip them -- we're at war.
And so I -- you know, obviously, I've thought long and hard about the use of troops. I think about it all the time. It is my responsibility to commit the troops. I believe we'll prevail -- I know we'll prevail. And out of that disarmament of Saddam will come a better world, particularly for the people who live in Iraq.
In other words, no, he doesn't ever doubt his convictions. That's really scary, because anyone who doesn't call his own axioms into question from time to time isn't affected much by external reality when they make decisions. George Bush is a guy who will drive the school bus straight off a cliff because the turn isn't on the map.