Have we all heard about Bush's interview with the Washington Post this weekend? We have!? Good. I think enough clever bloggers have commented on the surface content of it (Jesse, for example) that I'm safe in ignoring that. I want to mention the subtext (uh-oh, my social science background is showing through again).
Let's start with the reporters (Jim VandeHei and Michael A. Fletcher) thesis statement.
President Bush said the public's decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.
Most of the gang, I think, quite properly picked up on this phrase. Is it justified by the leader of the free world's actual words?
"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."
Yes. Yes, it is. The leader of the free world actually says he and his followers only have one moment of accountability in an entire eight year period. Therefore, nothing any of them did in the first four years is subject to question; anything they do in the next four years is pre-forgiven. One moment in eight years is all they face. Having passed that moment, they are forgiven for the past and approved for the future.
Am I being unfair? Is such a close parsing of such a few words dishonest? If these were the only words of his I had to work from, that might be a fair critique. But we have many other words of the leader of the free world. He has often shown this attitude toward infallibility.
Following the order of the Washington Post interview:
Bush acknowledged that "some of the decisions I've made up to now have affected our standing in parts of the world," but predicted that most Muslims will eventually see America as a beacon of freedom and democracy.
"There's no question we've got to continue to do a better job of explaining what America is all about," he said.
I have discussed this tendency and the creepy pathology that it reveals before. Whenever Bush and non-Bush are in disagreement there is no chance that Bush is wrong. There is no chance both are wrong and there is an honest middle ground that both might reach. The only possibility is that non-Bush is wrong and Bush only needs to better explain why they should support him. Oh, and the source of the misunderstanding is non-Bush's stupidity, not Bush's lack of clarity. Bush is without fault.
This is what I have called the rich bully pathology. Poor bullies need to crush everyone else. Rich bullies need to subordinate everyone else. Bush does not feel that he has to make any concessions towards anyone else. The most magnanimous thing he can do is let others support Bush. Why don't we understand how wonderful he is in letting us play left field on his team (even though left field is the worst position on the team). We, the non-Bush portion of the planet should be grateful that he lets us support him. That we are not thankful only shows what ungrateful bastards we all are. We should be ashamed.
And yet, we're not.