Saturday, November 04, 2006

Finding phoniness

As you get older, I suppose you have to learn which instincts you should trust, and which you shouldn't. I mean, sometimes what you think is an instinct is actually an old prejudice that you should unlearn. I've gotten pretty wise about my instincts, and so, when I first started hearing about George W. Bush, and my instincts said he was a phony, I listened to them.

It's hard to explain, but I just had that feeling that he would say what he needed to say to get elected, that you couldn't trust what came out of his mouth. He might not be lying... but you wouldn't know if he was. I never had any reason to change my mind about that, and when I heard his statement, after the Supreme Court declared that no recount for Florida was going to be allowed, I knew I was right. He claimed to have been humbled to have won so tightly contested an election... but you can't feel humbled when you've fought tooth and nail to keep your victory after the very first count of the votes.

An honest man, who insisted on a full, fair count of every single vote, and won by a razor thin margin could feel humbled; a man who stopped the recount because the first count showed him ahead couldn't.

It wasn't until 2004 that I felt I had proof positive that he was a phony, proof that I felt should stand up to anyone's scrutiny. Of course, it didn't... but I still feel it was proof.

Remember that George W. Bush claims to be a devout Christian, and says Jesus is his favorite philosopher.

Well, he said, twice, for the record, that if he knew then (in 2003, prior to the invasion) what he knew now (in 2004, during the election season), he wouldn't have changed his war plans at all. Nothing would have changed.

Except, at that time, we knew that the bulk of the WMD claims were false. That was what he was making the claims about. Although the danger was much, much less than he'd claimed, he said he wouldn't have changed anything about the invasion.

Now, there are two possibilities. First, there's the possibility that he doesn't understand the horrors of war, at all. Given that he can order a nuclear strike, I simply can't accept that possibility. I hope we both agree that if he were that clueless about the effects of warfare on the civilian populace, he would not belong in the office of commander-in-chief of the most powerful military force in all of human history.

The other possibility is, he was saying that, yes, he would have caused those horrors, even despite the lack of WMDs, without changing any of his plans to reduce the dangers and damage done to civilians.

Does this mean he's been lying about being a devout Christian? Does this mean that he does not care about Jesus, who counselled us to love our enemies even as we love our friends? Well, let's just assume that he's not... just for the sake of an argument.

So he really does care about the civilian casualties; he really feels some compassion for those who died in a war that he still believed was justified. So, what makes him so phony? Don't I understand that he couldn't admit to any mistakes, because if he did, the Democrats were going to seize on those mistakes, and go on the attack?

Yes, I do understand his refusal to admit to mistakes. I do, and I can't fault a politician for that, at least, not entirely.

But by golly, did he sound sincere saying that he wouldn't have changed a thing, didn't he?

In fact, if he was truly compassionate about the suffering of the Iraqi civilians, it must have been really hard to say he wouldn't have changed any of his plans, not even a little bit... but he said it, plain as day and sincere as all blazes.

Meaning he can say something with sincerity and a straight face, regardless of how he feels inside.

Checkmate. Bush is a phony. Either he can throw off "I wouldn't change a thing" while mourning the loss of innocent life, or he can throw off a claim to be Christian, and compassionate when he isn't. It doesn't matter; he can lie with a straight face, and will say something that he thinks will help him politically, and sound sincere.

You can't tell when he's telling the truth, or lying.

And while Republicans rule the Congress, no one is going to bother to find out if he's lying... about anything.

I can't think of a stronger argument for giving Congress back to the Democrats, even if only for two years.

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