THE ABRIDGED GEORGE BUSH….Jacob Weisberg writes in Slate that, yes, George Bush really is dumb. Here’s the abridged version:
The most obvious expression of Bush’s choice of ignorance is that, at the age of 57, he knows nothing about policy or history….A second, more damning aspect of Bush’s mind-set is that he doesn’t want to know anything in detail, however important….Closely related to this aggressive ignorance is a third feature of Bush’s mentality: laziness….A fourth and final quality of Bush’s mind is that it does not think. The president can’t tolerate debate about issues. Offered an option, he makes up his mind quickly and never reconsiders.
Matt Yglesias responds by wondering how Bush ever got nominated in the first place. As he says, you can argue about whether John Kerry is the best Democratic candidate for president or maybe only the third or fourth best, but he’s inarguably somewhere in the top half dozen. But Bush? If you were handicapping Republican candidates after the 1996 election he wouldn’t have been in the top 20. Hell, he might not have been in the top 100. There were literally dozens of Republicans who were plainly more qualified for the job than George Bush.
This became obvious after he had been in office only a few months. Remember the summer of 2001? All the talk was about how his presidency was floundering, Rumsfeld was about to be fired, it was a rudderless ship, etc. etc. Then came 9/11.
And suddenly, as with so many war presidents before him, Bush became a hero. We didn’t need someone bright, we just needed someone who would fight back. It was as if a blogger had become president, except for real.
But it turned out not to be enough. War presidents like Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt were every bit as steadfast as George Bush, but they backed it up with both intelligence and tactical sense. Bush has the steadfastness, but is unable to think beyond what’s for breakfast tomorrow morning.
So what’s my point? I don’t know. I’m rambling, and the question of how George Bush ever managed to become president is one that’s gnawed on me for a long time. I still can’t figure it out, though. He’s such an obvious airhead, so plainly unqualified, that I can’t figure out why the Republican party nominated him or why so much of the American public still supports him. I suspect that in the future, when histories of this era are written, historians won’t even try. Rather, George Bush’s presidency will just be considered some kind of weird, unexplainable aberration.
At least I hope so.