Bush is destroying the country (national debt: $9 trillion; national identity: Babel). But try and saddle him with that responsibility and you come up against reams of rationalizations, none of which includes the possibility that Bush is… well, bad. The neocons are blamed for the war; big business and Felipe Calderón (and before that Vicente Fox) for the bleeding borders. And Bush’s “commendable” fealty to friends is to “blame” for the nomination of stumblebums Miers, Gonzales, and “Brownie” of FEMA.
I liked Bush when he started out. Libertarians were generally hopeful about a president who promised a humble foreign policy and less taxation. I still liked Bush when he chased bin Laden in Afghanistan. But soon after, the real Bush revealed himself to anyone willing to see: A man with a megalomaniacal glint in the eyes and an unstoppable will to wage war on a backward, secular, harmless Arab state, hobbled by sanctions.
Bush is a stupid man, but he’s not a yes man. He’s not even a “let’s-hear-what-you-have-to-say” man. He’s a “do-as-I-say” “Decider,” a nickname he gave himself. The invasion of Iraq was Bush’s baby. It still is. In “Plan of Attack,” Bob Woodward embedded himself in the administration’s inner sanctums, and drilled Bush and his people. All were agreed: this presidency is a top-down affair. Bush doesn’t readily consult or even take directions from his Cabinet, much less from his neoconservative minions. When Bob W. asked George W. whether he consulted his earthly father about going to war, 43 replied characteristically that he conferred, not with 41, but with the Celestial One.
Yet even his detractors still insist, conspiratorially, that Bush, like Bart Simpson, “didn’t do it“; that this was a neocon-directed “war for oil and Israel.”
Conspiracy theories are the refuge of the weak-minded. Remember the Banality of Evil? Evil is really quite ordinary and bureaucratic in the way it goes about its business. Given its size, reach, and many usurpations, the American government’s destructive, warring propensities are only natural.
The premise for developing conspiracies to explain garden variety government transgressions is this: government generally does what is good for us (NOT). When it strays, it’s necessary to look beyond the facts for something far more sinister. Somehow, the venality that comes with excessive power is not enough to explain events. Why would one need to search for the “real reason” for an unjust, unscrupulous war, or destructive, unsustainable immigration policies, unless one believed government would never prosecute such a war, or persecute its own. History belies those delusions.
The bloated behemoth that the state has become is fundamentally antagonistic to the individual and to civil society. However, although government cheerily presides over the disintegration of civil society, it does so reflexively, rather than as a matter of collusion and conspiracy. Even when it embarks on a just war, as in Afghanistan, government will find ways to prolong it, since this involves the consolidation of fiefdoms.
Soldiers don’t benefit, but their superiors—the “generals” everyone genuflects to—do. “The only prize much cared for by the powerful is power. The prize of the general is not a bigger tent, but command,” warned O. W. Holmes. It is only natural for the colossus that is the state to continuously work to increase its sphere of control. “The imbecility of men is always inviting the impudence of power,” Emerson concluded. It is up to Americans to stop being imbeciles.
No need, then, to look to big business or to the mesmerizing powers of the Mexican president to understand why Bush does what he does. Bush has betrayed US borders and identity because he doesn’t believe in them. Afghani and Israeli: if Bush had his way, they’d all be molded into global democrats, citizens of the world.
Then there are the countless small ways in which Bush has openly displayed his contempt for the will of the people. When they informed him in no uncertain terms they would not entrust their ports to his Emirate friends, Bush assumed the eff-you position, and dared the people’s representatives to stop him. His next act was to nominate for the Supreme Court a singularly unqualified crony, Harriet Miers. He spared his fall guy, Lewis Libby, but has locked up patriotic, heroic, Border Patrol agents, Ramos and Compean, and thrown away the key.
No need to look to the neocons to understand why “W” went to war, they’ve faded, mostly; he’s still full of bravado about the bloodshed, cavalierly shipping off soldiers to die for nothing.
Bush does what he does because he’s a believer; he has absolute confidence that all the bad he does is in fact good. And that makes him a very dangerous man indeed.
©2007 By Ilana Mercer