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George W.
and the uses of stupidity



Little Bush's "Meet the Press" interview of Sunday, February 8, has provoked hard-hitting articles by war critics Justin Raimondo and David Corn.

Antiwar.com's Raimondo dares to utter the obvious truth about Bush's failings in the intelligence department, which were clearly illustrated in the Russert interview on NBC: "As George W. Bush stumbled, mumbled, and grumbled his way through a special edition of 'Meet the Press' with Tim Russert, an unspoken question kept rising above his droning voice: is this stammering dolt really the President of the United States?"

As Raimondo observes, even Bush's war-party cheerleaders acknowledged his poor performance. They attributed it to poor preparation — but one would expect that the president would know a little about why the United States went to war, even in the absence of special preparation by his handlers. Raimondo hits the mark when he quips that for Bush to do better a "brain transplant" might be necessary. ("The President Speaks — but is anybody listening?", Antiwar.com, February 9, 2004)

On the other hand, Bush's childish answers — at one point he stated that the United States had to invade Iraq because Saddam was considering building "weapons" — did make it difficult for Russert to actually focus on the administration's numerous contradictions. As The Nation's David Corn writes:

In his Oval Office, hour-long session with Bush, [Russert] repeatedly let Bush slide or elide. The few tough queries produced the predictable replies from Bush. And then Russert did not come back with the obvious follow-ups. He was not his usual self: a polite but aggressive quizzer who sticks to specifics, wielding quotes and source material to force his subjects to address previous statements and past actions. Instead, Russert allowed Bush to dish out the all-too familiar, White House-approved rhetoric. It pains me to say, he was more enabler than interrogator. ("Beat the Press," The Nation, February 8, 2004)

In short, in the Russert interview, Bush's lack of intelligence was fully evident to any half-observant viewer. But Russert was unable to isolate the inconsistencies and outright lies in the Bush administration because of Bush's failure to answer the questions, the incomprehensibility of some of his answers, and the sheer simple-mindedness of most of what he said.

Bush stated and restated that he was a "war president with war on my mind" and that intelligence reports had to be seen within the "context" of September 11: "I'm dealing with a world in which we have gotten struck by terrorists with airplanes." But what does that mean? It doesn't explain why the United States had to attack the specific country of Iraq, which neither perpetrated 9/11 nor threatened America.

Bill Clinton employed intellectual deception and various forms of wordplay to avoid the truth, but stupidity seems to work for Bush. In fact, people are able to attribute Bush's failure to address issues to his inarticulateness and not to deliberate deception, as was the case with the obviously intelligent Clinton. If stupidity didn't work, Bush wouldn't be where he is today. And one doesn't have to be smart to be a figurehead. The neocons "under" Bush have plenty of the brainpower required to run American national-security policy.

February 11, 2004

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