Monday, May 21, 2007

What’s going on in George Bush’s mind?

“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land.” - Peter Pan*******
"I'm the commander in chief, see, I don't need to explain, I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting part about being president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."- George W. Bush, quoted in Bob Woodward's book 'Bush at War'
New York Magazine Puts Bush on the Couch - Earlier this month, New York Magazine published a series of essays under the collective title, “Bush's Mind: Analyzing the President.” [link follows below]. In 17 essays by experts in politcs and psychology, the magazine offers what it calls a psychopolitical survey of the inner George W. Bush: http://www.pensitoreview.com/2007/02/26/new-york-magazine-puts-bush-on-the-couch/ Bush, like his mother, has an almost inhuman ability to identify his own advantage without the slightest regard to its cost to others. Bush’s upbringing in wealth and privilege is key to understanding him, and yet the public is blind to it.

Bush's Mind: Analyzing the president: http://nymag.com/news/politics/Bush/26993/ I think Bush has come to believe he’s on a lonely, noble mission—doing the right thing in spite of the ravings and denunciation by pygmies—and that to some degree he thinks people outside the Oval Office have to be lied to. But he is very mysterious—he doesn’t reveal much in the way of personal qualities.


One longtime former Republican official, who held senior posts in both the first and second Bush administrations, was bluntest of all. "My question is," this former official told me, "does he expose himself to people who respectfully disagree, or thoughtfully disagree, or may have a legitimate suggestion? Not a lot, no. I think some of us are just born with a really, really active curiosity. If you're on a farm, you ask, 'How does this irrigation system work?' I think he has a very narrow curiosity. He's polite. He was raised to be polite. But you just never sense a deep curiosity. His interests are exercise and chopping wood."
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Vanity Fair: Inside Bush's Bunker: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/10/purdum200710

For any second-term president—as the pressure grows to cement his legacy, and with many of his best aides gone—the physical bunker of an electronically sealed, sniper-patrolled White House, which restricts his access to old friends and new ideas, can lead to psychological isolation. Talking to administration insiders, the author learns why George W. Bush's disconnect is even more extreme, from the "Churchillian riff" he goes into when Iraq is discussed, to his eerie optimism, to his increasing reliance on a dwindling band of diehards.
by Todd S. Purdum October 2007
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Gore Blasts Bush in 'The Assault on Reason' - Former Vice President's Book a Searing Assault on the Bush Administration: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=3195676&page=1 In the book, Gore is accusatory, passionate, and angry. He begins discussing the president by accusing him of sharing President Richard Nixon's unprincipled hunger for power -- and the book proceeds to get less complimentary from there. While Gore stops short of flatly calling for the impeachment of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, he certainly gives the impression that in his view such a move would be well deserved. He calls the president a lawbreaker, a liar and a man with the blood of thousands of innocent lives on his hands.
Report: In Meeting, ‘Wild-Eyed’ Bush Thumped Chest While Repeating ‘I Am The President!’ http://thinkprogress.org/2007/05/31/bush-wild-eyed/ He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of “our country’s destiny.” This is the second time in recent weeks that accounts have surfaced of Bush lashing out or “ranting” in private meetings when responding to criticism of his Iraq policy.

Bush Confirms He Will Seek More Dictatorial Power
After securing supreme status for his office and a six month window to implement whatever surveillance methods he wishes, Bush says his work is not yet complete
Infowars.net August 7, 2007 Steve Watson
While Constitutional experts and even sectors of the corporate mainstream media have denounced the latest power grab by the Bush administration as "unnecessary and highly dangerous", the President himself has confirmed that he will seek even more authority from Congress and will attempt to pass more legislation aimed at granting the government unquestionable power over the people.
Legislation signed Sunday gives the government the green light to install permanent backdoors in communications systems that allow warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, a blatant violation of the 4th amendment.
The administration has a 6 month window in which to impose any surveillance program it chooses and that program will go unchallenged and remain legally binding in perpetuity - it cannot be revoked. Under the definitions of the legislation, Bush has been granted absolute dictator status for a minimum of 6 months, dovetailing with a recent Presidential Decision Directive that also appoints Bush as a supreme dictator during an announced emergency.
The bill was passed on Friday after the president jawboned Congress , saying lawmakers could not leave for their August recess at the weekend unless they "pass a bill that will give our intelligence community the tools they need to protect the United States."
Despite these huge freedom crushing steps, Bush says he is not done:
"While I appreciate the leadership it took to pass this bill, we must remember that our work is not done," Bush said in his Sunday statement . "This bill is a temporary, narrowly focused statute to deal with the most immediate shortcomings in the law."
The statement continues:

"When Congress returns in September the Intelligence committees and leaders in both parties will need to complete work on the comprehensive reforms requested by Director McConnell, including the important issue of providing meaningful liability protection to those who are alleged to have assisted our Nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001."
This basically means that the administration will push for liability for ISP's and cell phone companies in order to head off court cases brought by the ACLU and others, including retroactive protection which would neutralize all attempts to challenge the administration's wiretapping activities spanning back to 9/11.
Constitutional expert and Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin has slammed the statement and pointed out the use of Orwellian doublespeak by Bush whereby he effectively admits to breaking the law and illegally spying on American citizens without actually saying so: "Apparently 'allegedly helped us stay safe' is Bush Administration code for telecom companies and government officials who participated in a conspiracy to perform illegal surveillance... Because what they did is illegal, we do not admit that they actually did it, we only say that they are alleged to have done it." --------
As the popular left leaning blog Think Progress has pointed out, even the corporate controlled mainstream media has editorialized against the FISA legislation, with the New York Times today calling it an “unnecessary and dangerous expansion of President Bush's powers.”:
USA Today:
A skittish Congress allowed itself to be stampeded last week into granting the president unfettered surveillance power. When it returns to Washington, it should do what it can to make sure that the sun goes down on this flawed measure.
Washington Post:
To call this legislation ill-considered is to give it too much credit: It was scarcely considered at all. Instead, it was strong-armed through both chambers by an administration that seized the opportunity to write its warrantless wiretapping program into law — or, more precisely, to write it out from under any real legal restrictions.
The New York Times:
While serving little purpose, the new law has real dangers. It would allow the government to intercept, without a warrant, every communication into or out of any country, including the United States. Instead of explaining all this to American voters — the minimal benefits and the enormous risks — the Democrats have allowed Mr. Bush and his fear-mongering to dominate all discussions on terrorism and national security.
The Los Angeles Times:
You know something's wrong with this Congress when a Democratic champion of privacy rights feels compelled to vote for Republican legislation that compromises those rights. That's what California Sen. Dianne Feinstein did last week when she joined a stampede to approve a temporary “fix” sought by the Bush administration in a law governing electronic surveillance.
San Francisco Chronicle:
No-limits spying is on a roll. In rushed votes, both the House and Senate meekly accepted a White House plan to vastly expand phone and e-mail eavesdropping. The changes were sold as a key step in tracking foreign terrorists and their allies on American soil. But the shift guts any semblance of oversight, leaving the picking and choosing of targets to spy agencies.
The Boston Globe:
The administration maintains that technological changes have created problems with the 1978 law. But never has Bush demonstrated why the terms of that law, which permitted officials to get warrant approvals up to 72 hours after they started a wiretap, are no longer workable. This and other questions could have been answered if Congress had demanded an open debate on the administration's bill. Its failure to do so is a shameful abdication of its own responsibility. It's difficult to maintain a system of checks and balances when one branch simply checks out.
Rocky Mountain News:
Now the authority to approve wiretaps rests with the attorney general - hardly a reassuring prospect given Alberto Gonzales' performance in that office - and the director of national intelligence. … Given the administration's expansive view of its own powers, this FISA rewrite could allow much wider eavesdropping, with little outside oversight.
Sacramento Bee:
After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush did an end run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which prohibits eavesdropping on Americans without judicial oversight. Instead of going to Congress to change the law, Bush decided to simply monitor without warrants the international phone calls and e-mails of people inside the United States. Six years later, the Bush administration belatedly has gone to Congress. But instead of promoting modernization in the law, the administration has ginned up new fears about terrorist attacks and cowed Congress into passing hasty, ill-considered changes.
Seattle Post Intelligencer :
The redeeming aspect of the political theater involving Americans' rights to privacy is that Congress wrote itself an option for a better ending in six months. The latest power grabs represent a move to legalize already existing covert programs that are in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States. The neocon administration has brought its crimes out into the open and the puppet Congress, rather than holding it accountable, is actively legalizing criminality.
"TerrorStorm is something that should be seen by everyone, no matter what their stance/affiliation/political bent. " - Rich Rosell, Digitally Obsessed UK Get TerrorStorm on DVD today
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'The President Has Accepted Ethnic Cleansing'
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was just in New York (more...) for the United Nations General Assembly. Once again, he said that he is only interested in civilian nuclear power instead of atomic weapons. How much does the West really know about the nuclear program in Iran?
Seymour Hersh: A lot. And it's been underestimated how much the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) knows. If you follow what (IAEA head Mohamed) ElBaradei (more...) and the various reports have been saying, the Iranians have claimed to be enriching uranium to higher than a 4 percent purity, which is the amount you need to run a peaceful nuclear reactor. But the IAEA's best guess is that they are at 3.67 percent or something. The Iranians are not even doing what they claim to be doing. The IAEA has been saying all along that they've been making progress but basically, Iran is nowhere. Of course the US and Israel are going to say you have to look at the worst case scenario, but there isn't enough evidence to justify a bombing raid. SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is this just another case of exaggerating the danger in preparation for an invasion like we saw in 2002 and 2003 prior to the Iraq War?
SEYMOUR HERSH: We have this wonderful capacity in America to Hitlerize people. We had Hitler, and since Hitler we've had about 20 of them. Khrushchev and Mao and of course Stalin, and for a little while Gadhafi was our Hitler. And now we have this guy Ahmadinejad. The reality is, he's not nearly as powerful inside the country as we like to think he is. The Revolutionary Guards have direct control over the missile program and if there is a weapons program, they would be the ones running it. Not Ahmadinejad.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where does this feeling of urgency that the US has with Iran come from?
Hersh: Pressure from the White House. That's just their game.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What interest does the White House have in moving us to the brink with Tehran?
Hersh: You have to ask yourself what interest we had 40 years ago for going to war in Vietnam. You'd think that in this country with so many smart people, that we can't possibly do the same dumb thing again. I have this theory in life that there is no learning. There is no learning curve. Everything is tabula rasa. Everybody has to discover things for themselves.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Even after Iraq? Aren't there strategic reasons for getting so deeply involved in the Middle East?
Hersh: Oh no. We're going to build democracy. The real thing in the mind of this president is he wants to reshape the Middle East and make it a model. He absolutely believes it. I always thought Henry Kissinger was a disaster because he lies like most people breathe and you can't have that in public life. But if it were Kissinger this time around, I'd actually be relieved because I'd know that the madness would be tied to some oil deal. But in this case, what you see is what you get. This guy believes he's doing God's work.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So what are the options in Iraq?
Hersh: There are two very clear options: Option A) Get everybody out by midnight tonight. Option B) Get everybody out by midnight tomorrow. The fuel that keeps the war going is us.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: A lot of people have been saying that the US presence there is a big part of the problem. Is anyone in the White House listening?
Hersh: No. The president is still talking about the "Surge" (eds. The "Surge" refers to President Bush's commitment of 20,000 additional troops to Iraq in the spring of 2007 in an attempt to improve security in the country.) as if it's going to unite the country. But the Surge was a con game of putting additional troops in there. We've basically Balkanized the place, building walls and walling off Sunnis from Shiites. And in Anbar Province, where there has been success, all of the Shiites are gone. They've simply split.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is that why there has been a drop in violence there?
Hersh: I think that's a much better reason than the fact that there are a couple more soldiers on the ground.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So what are the lessons of the Surge (more...)?
Hersh: The Surge means basically that, in some way, the president has accepted ethnic cleansing, whether he's talking about it or not. When he first announced the Surge in January, he described it as a way to bring the parties together. He's not saying that any more. I think he now understands that ethnic cleansing is what is going to happen. You're going to have a Kurdistan. You're going to have a Sunni area that we're going to have to support forever. And you're going to have the Shiites in the South.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So the US is over four years into a war that is likely going to end in a disaster. How valid are the comparisons with Vietnam?
Hersh: The validity is that the US is fighting a guerrilla war and doesn't know the culture. But the difference is that at a certain point, because of Congressional and public opposition, the Vietnam War was no longer tenable. But these guys now don't care. They see it but they don't care.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: If the Iraq war does end up as a defeat for the US, will it leave as deep a wound as the Vietnam War did?
Hersh: Much worse. Vietnam was a tactical mistake. This is strategic. How do you repair damages with whole cultures? On the home front, though, we'll rationalize it away. Don't worry about that. Again, there's no learning curve. No learning curve at all. We'll be ready to fight another stupid war in another two decades.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Of course, preventing that is partially the job of the media. Have reporters been doing a better job recently than they did in the run-up to the Iraq War?
Hersh: Oh yeah. They've done a better job since. But back then, they blew it. When you have a guy like Bush who's going to move the infamous Doomsday Clock forward, and he's going to put everybody in jeopardy and he's secretive and he doesn't tell Congress anything and he's inured to what we write. In such a case, we (journalists) become more important. The First Amendment failed and the American press failed the Constitution. We were jingoistic. And that was a terrible failing. I'm asked the question all the time: What happened to my old paper, the New York Times? And I now say, they stink. They missed it. They missed the biggest story of the time and they're going to have to live with it.
Interview conducted by Charles Hawley and David Gordon Smith
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One businessman from New York was asked to the White House to offer his views on stem-cell research—"a major C.E.O., a hospital board chairman," Rollins recalls. The man to Rollins that, after he spoke up, Bush "put his finger in my chest" in angry disagreement.
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If the guy's last name wasn't Bush, he'd be lucky to have a job as a greeter at a Wal-Mart.
- Buzzflash
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If Past Is Prologue, George Bush Is Becoming An Increasingly Dangerous President:
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0421-26.htm
by John W. Dean, a former counsel to the president.

President George W. Bush's presidency is a disaster - one that's still unfolding. In a mid-2004 column, I argued that, at that point, Bush had already demonstrated that he possessed the least attractive and most troubling traits among those that political scientist James Dave Barber has cataloged in his study of Presidents' personality types.
Barber, after analyzing all the presidents through Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, found repeating patterns of common elements relating to character, worldview, style, approach to dealing with power, and expectations. Based on these findings, Barber concluded that presidents fell into clusters of characteristics.
Bush has never understood what presidential scholar Richard Neustadt discovered many years ago: In a democracy, the only real power the presidency commands is the power to persuade. Presidents have their bully pulpit, and the full attention of the news media, 24/7. In addition, they are given the benefit of the doubt when they go to the American people to ask for their support. But as effective as this power can be, it can be equally devastating when it languishes unused - or when a president pretends not to need to use it, as Bush has done.
Apparently, Bush does not realize that to lead he must continually renew his approval with the public. He is not, as he thinks, the decider. The public is the decider.
Bush is following the classic mistaken pattern of active/negative presidents: As Barber explained, they issue order after order, without public support, until they eventually dissipate the real powers they have -- until "nothing [is] left but the shell of the office." Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all followed this pattern.
Active/negative presidents are risk-takers. (Consider the colossal risk Bush took with the Iraq invasion). And once they have taken a position, they lock on to failed courses of action and insist on rigidly holding steady, even when new facts indicate that flexibility is required.
The source of their rigidity is that they've become emotionally attached to their own positions; to change them, in their minds, would be to change their personal identity, their very essence. That, they are not willing to do at any cost.
George Bush has misled America into a preemptive war in Iraq; he is using terrorism to claim that as Commander-in-Chief, he is above the law; and he refuses to acknowledge that American law prohibits torturing our enemies and warrantlessly wiretapping Americans.
Americans, increasingly, are not buying his justifications for any of these positions. Yet Bush has made no effort to persuade them that his actions are sound, prudent or productive; rather, he takes offense when anyone questions his unilateral powers. He responds as if personally insulted. Barber's collective portrait of Wilson, Hoover, Johnson and Nixon now fits George W. Bush too: "He sees himself as having begun with a high purpose, but as being continually forced to compromise in order to achieve the end state he vaguely envisions," Barber writes. He continues, "Battered from all sides . . . he begins to feel his integrity slipping away from him . . . [and] after enduring all this for longer than any mortal should, he rebels and stands his ground. Masking his decision in whatever rhetoric is necessary, he rides the tiger to the end."
There is, however, the possibility of another terrorist attack, and if one occurred, Americans would again rally around the president - wrongly so, since this is a presidency that lives on fear-mongering about terror, but does little to truly address it. The possibility that we might both suffer an attack, and see a boost to Bush come from it, is truly a terrifying thought.

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Bush: Pathological liar or idiot-in-chief?
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22134108/
Olbermann: Timeline for Iran’s nuclear ambitions was clear, but he kept on
By Keith Olbermann
Thurs., Dec. 6, 2007
There are few choices more terrifying than the one Mr. Bush has left us with tonight.
We have either a president who is too dishonest to restrain himself from invoking World War III about Iran at least six weeks after he had to have known that the analogy would be fantastic, irresponsible hyperbole, or we have a president too transcendently stupid not to have asked, at what now appears to have been a series of opportunities to do so, whether the fairy tales he either created or was fed were still even remotely plausible.
A pathological presidential liar, or an idiot-in-chief. It is the nightmare scenario of political science fiction: A critical juncture in our history and, contained in either answer, a president manifestly unfit to serve, and behind him in the vice presidency an unapologetic warmonger who has long been seeing a world visible only to himself.
After spokeswoman Dana Perino’s announcement from the White House late last night, the timeline is inescapable and clear.
In August the president was told by his hand-picked major-domo of intelligence, Mike McConnell, a flinty, high-strung-looking, worrying-warrior who will always see more clouds than silver linings, that what “everybody thought” about Iran might be, in essence, crap.
Yet on Oct. 17, the president said of Iran and its President Ahmadinejad:
“I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon.”
And as he said that, Mr. Bush knew that at bare minimum there was a strong chance that his rhetoric was nothing more than words with which to scare the Iranians.
Or was it, Sir, to scare the Americans?
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Co-Dependent Congress Must Wake Up: The President Needs a Straitjacket and a Padded CellSubmitted by BuzzFlash on Wed, 02/14/2007 - 4:47pm.
by Dave Lindorff
http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/contributors/791
It's time to simply admit the obvious: The president of the United States is crazy as a loon, and the Congress and the media are functioning as co-dependents as he runs the country off a cliff.
Bush says in his latest press conference that he is "certain" that Iran is providing "technically sophisticated" roadside bomb weapons to Iraqi insurgent forces to help them kill Americans.
He probably is "certain." But nobody else of consequence in the government is, and the evidence to support his claim is simply not there.
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Bush's Messiah Complex
By Dan FroomkinSpecial to washingtonpost.com
Monday, January 7, 2008; 1:17 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2008/01/07/BL2008010701413_pf.html
With time running short on his presidency -- and on the eve of a trip to the Middle East -- President Bush seems to have overcome his aversion to talking about his legacy and is now speaking fervently about how he expects to be remembered.
As it turns out, the president sees himself as quite the heroic figure.
"I can predict that the historians will say that George W. Bush recognized the threats of the 21st century, clearly defined them, and had great faith in the capacity of liberty to transform hopelessness to hope, and laid the foundation for peace by making some awfully difficult decisions," Bush told Yonit Levi of Israel's Channel 2 News. Bush held several interviews with Middle Eastern journalists last week in anticipation of his trip to the region, which starts tomorrow.
"When he needed to be tough, he acted strong, and when he needed to have vision he understood the power of freedom to be transformative," Bush said of himself to Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.
As for the people of the Middle East, Bush told Hisham Bourar of al-Hurra Television: "I would hope that they would say President Bush respects my religion and has great love for the human -- human being, and believes in human dignity."
The Bush record, the president told Nadia Bilbassy-Charters of al-Arabiya Television, is one of liberation -- "liberation, by the way, not only from dictatorship, but from disease around the world, like HIV/AIDS or malaria."
On a personal basis, Bush told Bilbassy-Charters that he hopes that people would know "that he hurts when he sees poverty and hopelessness" and "that he's a realistic guy."
Bush's self-image contrasts sharply with his image among his fellow Americans. More than 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the job is doing, and a CNN poll in November found that 58 percent of Americans rated Bush either a poor president, a very poor president, or the worst president ever. [read more at site]
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I hear Bush is going to rewrite the Bible. It's called the King George version.
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The VesselBy Gary Hart, former U.S. senator
He's the Man With No ShadowBy Robert Stone, author of Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties
His Dad, the Bottle, VietnamBy Jonathan Alter, Newsweek columnist
The Real AgendaBy Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor, Slate
He Is Not a Crook By Melvin Laird, counselor to President Nixon
Listening to HimselfBy Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac
Once More, With FeelingBy Mark Green, former NYC public advocate
Simplicity HimselfBy Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic
What Would Jesus Do?By Scott Dikkers, editor-in-chief of The Onion
He's a Pathological OptimistBy Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Lincoln’s Melancholy
Mr. SubliminalBy Christopher Buckley, author of Thank You for Smoking
His SmileBy Deepak Chopra, president, Alliance for a New Humanity
Deep Down He KnowsBy Ted Sorensen, speechwriter for President Kennedy
He Misunderstands HistoryBy Alan Brinkley, Allan Nevins Professor of History, Columbia University
He's a Decadent AristocratBy Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
The Clinical DiagnosisBy Susan Andersen, professor of psychology, NYU
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Uncovering the Psychological Roots of the Bush Tragedy
By Peter Michaelson
28 January 2008
http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/contributors/1520

Obviously, the best scoops and disclosures are published before the voting. Yet belated information about unfit politicians is still important news. A recent effort in this genre is Jacob Weisberg's The Bush Tragedy, in which the author gives ample reasons why George W. Bush was, and still is, immensely unqualified to be president.
Weisberg, editor-in-chief of Slate.com, attributes Bush's flawed leadership to his complicated relationship with his family and, in particular, with his father. The author writes that Bush "has been driven since childhood by a need to differentiate himself from his father, to challenge, surpass, and overcome him." Weisberg says his book is the "black box" that explains the plane crash of Bush's presidency. For all his interesting observations, however, Weisberg could have gone deeper.
He notes that Bush is insecure, aggressive, and burdened with feelings of being inadequate and a disappointment to his family. Bush lacks the true confidence that would allow him to accept his limitations, admit his mistakes, and salvage what he can of the wreckage of his administration, the author says.
He notes that Bush developed a firm strategy to make his political choices completely different from his father's -- yet he doesn't say why. Nor does he mention the possibility that Bush has a personality disorder or that he might be, as Dr. Justin A. Frank claims in Bush on the Couch, a sociopath.
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When Loyalty Is Not a Virtue: A Glimpse into Bush's Amoral World
by Andrew Bard Schmookler
March 16, 2007
The issue of the place of loyalty in the Bushite worldview has been put once again into the spotlight. What has brought this back to center stage is this scandal of the firing of the U.S. Attorneys: 1) we now know that loyalty to Bush was a central question upon which the Bushites based their decision on whether or not to keep or to fire those representatives of justice around the country-- in other words, the whole value of fairness and justice was overwhelmed by the priority placed on the loyalty of their minions in their unceasing struggle for more and more power; and 2) we are beginning to witness the working out of the fate of Alberto Gonzalez, the Bush loyalist whom this president transferred to the Attorney Generalship without any expectation that he would service justice itself, but only the political interests of his lord and master, to whom he has sworn fealty.
Although loyalty is always highly valued among our politicians, George W. Bush has shown himself exceptional in placing so high a priority on loyalty in assessing his people.
While in many contexts loyalty is rightly regarded as an important moral virtue, Bush’s excessive valuing of loyalty is less a sign of his appreciating a moral virtue than of his inhabiting a world in which true morality is scarcely relevant.
That’s what underlies Bush’s pronounced penchant for appointing cronies rather than well-qualified people, and of his bestowing honors on people who have stood by him while failing the country.
So when this president bestows the Medals of Freedom on a George Tenant, whose failures in the pre-war intelligence helped plunged America into a disastrous war, or on Paul Bremer, whose misjudgments helped squander what chances there were of avoiding disaster, it is indeed a scandal. For these honors are supposed to acknowledge achievements in the service to the nation as a whole, and to the nation’s values, and not just loyal service to an individual.
But while calling it a scandal is a valid moral judgment on this president’s actions, we should also understand that Bush’s excessive valuing of loyalty is a clue to why this president consistently works to advance his own power at the cost of the nation’s good order.
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