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Bush And Busher: What IS His Problem?

According to Matthijs van Boxsel, author of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF STUPIDITY, "stupidity is not the same as a lack of intelligence...'It's a quality all its own. It's unwitting self-destruction, the ability to act against one's best wishes...It's a typical human talent." Perhaps that begins to explain George W. Bush. As Mark Crispin Miller writes in THE BUSH DYSLEXICON:

"Our president is not an imbecile but an operator just as canny as he is hard-hearted--which is to say that he's extraordinarily shrewd....As Bush himself has often said--it suits a politician to have everybody thinking he's a dunce, especially if he wants to do things his way. The satire that sells him short, therefore, can only work to his advantage, by blinding us to his team's big-time plans and causing us to overlook his own prodigious skill at propaganda." (pp.2-3)

Miller goes on to write that Bush's "gross illiteracy" is often used as a focal topic to cover his more telling failures: "his neglected military service, his many shady business dealings, or his close ties to the likes of Representative Tom DeLay."

But none of this means that Bush is not stupid in van Boxsel's sense: one whose actions appear self-destructive or , to be more specific to Bush's case, one whose actions, both at home and abroad, are, much too often, not in the best interests of our nation. Where does Bush's national self-destructiveness, his willingness to destroy nearly 65 years of national social betterment, come from? Maureen Dowd thinks it's Bush's Attention Deficit Disorder.

Just as Bush's illiteracy reflects the illiteracy of the common man, so, too, does Bush's ADD reflect the mental problems inherent in our dysfunctional society. Dowd reminds us that The New Republic "recently dubbed this "historical attention deficit disorder," when a country gets distracted from focusing on any one place for very long. Our scattered consciousness is the reason we're so bad at empire, too impatient to hang around hot climes trying to force cold natives to like us." Dowd believes that Bush is our ADD model par excellence, pointing out how our foreign policy mirrors symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder:

*I find my mind wandering from tasks that are uninteresting or difficult
*I say things without thinking and later regret having said them."
*I make quick decisions without thinking enough about their possible bad results
*I have a quick temper, a short fuse
*I have trouble planning in what order to do a series of tasks or activities
*"In group activities it is hard for me to wait my turn."
*I usually work on more than one project at a time, and fail to finish many of them."

While Dowd couches her criticism of Bush in her usual ironic tone, the same point was made without humor during the presidential campaign by Gail Sheehy for Vanity Fair, documenting symptoms of both dyslexia and ADD found in the Bush family. She wasn't alone, as you can see on our BUSH AND DYSLEXIA page. Here's what we wrote in 2000:

"It's not just that Bush begins to lose focus earlier than most administrators in high pressure jobs, but his language breaks down and he sometimes becomes incomprehensible. When reporters began writing about his language difficulties after the New Hampshire primaries, excuses were made by both Bush spinners and sympathetic reporters that he only made his language gaffes late in the day. Then it was late in the day and early in the morning. After that it was late in the day, early in the morning, and when under pressure. Then Bush began to schmooze with reporters on his plane and we were given stories that he didn't sleep well on the road and missed the comfort of his Austin bed. All of these explanations are true, but they don't really get to the heart of the matter. Bush appears to be incapable of working long, hard, pressure-filled days, the kind of days common to the presidency, without suffering a loss of attention and an inability to clearly communicate. Can we afford a president who works a six hour day and devotes little of those hours to "studying specific issues or working on executive matters"? Bush may want to do more, but his language and attention problems appear to prevent him from doing more."

We don't think the conclusions we arrived at in 2000 are any different than the conclusions we arrive at today, except that Bush has chosen to attempt to work long days under pressure, resulting in the behavior that Dowd has pointed out above. We don't think such self-destructive behavior is in the best interest of our nation. In fact, we think it's stupid.

--Jerry Politex, 07.07.03

BUSH'S "HARD HEART"..."In America, politicians have followed the polls, the money, the talk-show bombasters -- anything but their own consciences. [Former NY governor] Cuomo understands. He was a politician himself. Still, he points out that political conservatives, who don't think the government can do anything right, trust it to take a life. Only when it comes to capital punishment does the system operate perfectly. Such is the thinking, if it can be called that, of George Bush himself. No one has presided over as many executions as he did as governor of Texas -- and with as little doubt about guilt and as much faith in his own righteousness....

"I asked Cuomo whether he felt he had saved lives. He demurred. But the fact remains that he set a standard for political courage that most American politicians cannot even begin to meet. Some of them, of course, genuinely favor capital punishment -- I am convinced of Bush's sincerity, for instance. But when faced with the choice, they would prefer the death of the occasional innocent person to that of their own careers. They are not soft on crime. They are hard in the heart." --Richard Cohen, Washington Post, 06.19.03

BUSH CRUELTY..."There was a moment during the second debate with Al Gore," Mr. Miller said, "when they were talking about a hate-crimes bill in Texas. Bush launched into this thing about the murderers of James Byrd and how the state was going to fry them. There was a look of glee on his face. He spoke with ease and conviction, completely unscripted. That was a revelation to me. I realized that he is capable of speaking cruelly." --Mark Crispin Miller


Keep No Records, Create That Myth

People who know Bush well say the strain of war is palpable. He rarely jokes with staffers these days and occasionally startles them with sarcastic putdowns.... He's got that steely-eyed look, but he is burdened," says a friend who has spent time with the president since the war began. "You can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. I worry about him."... News coverage of the war often irritates him. He's infuriated by reporters and retired generals who publicly question the tactics of the war plan.... Bush's schedule still includes meetings on matters unrelated to the war, many of them on the economy, but the meetings are shorter now....

Bush believes he was called by God to lead the nation at this time, says Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a close friend who talks with Bush every day. His history degree from Yale makes him mindful of the importance of the moment. He knows he's making "history-changing decisions," Evans says. [Bush's Yale transcript discloses a "c" average and his extra-curricular activities totaled social chairman of his frat and membership in a secret social society. --Politex]

Bush doesn't keep a diary or other personal record of the events that will form his legacy. Aides take notes, but there's no stenographer in most meetings, nor are they videotaped or recorded.... He is convinced that the Iraqi leader is literally insane and would gladly give terrorists weapons to use to launch another attack on the United States.... In the first days of the conflict, the president's aides said he was leaving the details of war planning to his generals. Then, fearing that he might seem too uninvolved, they began describing him as interested in all the specifics.

Rumsfeld was Richard Nixon's ambassador to NATO and a White House chief of staff and Defense secretary for Gerald Ford. He won't compare Bush with those presidents, but he likes the way his current boss operates. "He thinks things through, but when he makes a decision, he makes it, and he doesn't go back and worry about it," Rumsfeld says. Bush is not an expert on military tactics, but he's getting an education from Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was an Air Force combat pilot in Vietnam.... People who know Bush well say the burdens of war take a toll on him. His wry humor, which generally punctuates his relationships with his aides, largely evaporates in times of great stress. He can be impatient and imperious.

On March 17, before he delivered a 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam [Click on "The Man Is An Idiot"], Bush summoned congressional leaders to the White House. They expected a detailed briefing, but the president told them he was notifying them only because he was legally required to do so and then left the room. They were taken aback, and some were annoyed. They were just as surprised by his buoyant mood two days later at another White House meeting. --Judy Keen, 04.02.03


"One cannot imagine F.D.R., before declaring war on Japan, or even Ronald Reagan before Grenada, pumping a fist and saying of himself, "Feel good" as President Bush did before he announced the beginning of the Iraq war." --Susan Faludi, 03.30.03

"The Man Is An Idiot"

"The [BBC live] footage was the most disturbing thing on television in some time. There was US President George W Bush, being prepped for his televised declaration of war. It was not the combing of his hair, the only aspect of the coverage reported by any American media outlet (the Washington Post in this case), which was cause for embarrassment; everyone expects that. Rather, it was the demeanour I would say antics of the president himself.

"Bush, the so-called leader of the free world, was sitting behind his desk going over his speech, as we would expect. But then it got weird. I felt like I was looking behind the curtain, and it was uglier than I ever imagined.

"Like some class clown trying to get attention from the back of the room, he started mugging for his handlers. His eyes darted back and forth impishly as he cracked faces at others around him. He pumped a fist and self-consciously muttered, "feel good," which was interestingly sanitised into the more mature and assertive, "I'm feeling good" by the same Washington Post.

"He was goofing around, and there's only one way to interpret that kind of behaviour just seconds before announcing war on Iraq: the man is an idiot." Kevin Lowe, 03.30.03

"I'm the commander... see, I don't need to explain. I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." --Woodward's BUSH AT WAR


BUSH EGO "GROWING FASTER THAN ECONOMY" " "Bush's ego seems to be growing much faster than the economy. Notice that he more and more uses the personal pronoun - "I" am sick and tired, he says, and "I" have no desire to watch the rerun of an old movie. This is an emperor talking, not the president of a republic. The relationship between two sovereign nations is not a matter of personalities. Bush's personal feelings and prejudices are not the basis on which U.S. government policy should be formulated. Bush doesn't seem to take criticism very well, and he tends to resort to name-calling when world leaders disagree with him, as if mere disagreement were a mortal sin. Well, Saddam Hussein is no Hitler; George Bush is no Winston Churchill. And this war will definitely not be our finest hour."
reese | related stories


Now, as more and more Americans are rapidly coming to realize, the don't-mess-with-Texas swagger was only half of Bush's personality; the other half was the lip-biting, scared little kid who covers up his insecurities with macho, chest-beating bravado. He is the prototypical paradox: an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. None of this would really matter if Bush, aka The Duh, were where he's supposed to be -- luxuriating as a private citizen, perhaps writing a book on his failed bid to become president -- but through some tragically twisted circumstance, he's found himself in a position where he is able to alter the destiny of the entire planet. Yet infinitely worse, every decision he makes -- in that it is coming from that place of ego-driven insecurity -- is the exact opposite of the reasoned, compassionate, measured, rational response the world desperately needs. And confounding the problem even further, he has neither the knowledge, expertise, nor the abstract reasoning ability -- irrespective of his flawed personality profile -- to make the correct decision. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed a president, time after time, make the exact wrong call on every single issue. Lately I'm afraid to pick up the morning paper for fear of yet another foolhardy decision from the blundering Baron of Brinksmanship. --Ogi Overman


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Bush Watch is a daily political internet magazine based in Austin, Texas, a non-advocacy site paid for and edited by Politex, a non-affiliated U.S. citizen. Contents, including "Bush Watch" and "Politex," (c) 1998-2001 Politex. The views expressed herein and the views in stories that you are linked to are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bush Watch. Permission of author required for reprinting original material, and only requests for reprinting a specific item are considered. The duration of the working links is not under our control. Bush Watch has not reviewed all of the sites linked to our site and is not responsible for the content of any off-site pages or any other sites linked to our site. Your linking to any other off-site pages or other sites from our site is at your own risk.
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