Friday, March 14, 2003
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HOW BUSH DECIDES: David Brooks
"In certain circles, it is not only important what opinion you hold, but how you hold it. It is important to be seen dancing with complexity, sliding among shades of gray. Any poor rube can come to a simple conclusion--that President Saddam Hussein is a menace who must be disarmed--but the refined ratiocinators want to be seen luxuriating amid the difficulties, donning the jewels of nuance, even to the point of self-paralysis. And they want to see their leaders paying homage to this style. Accordingly, many Bush critics seem less disturbed by his position than by his inability to adhere to the rules of genteel intellectual manners. They want him to show a little anguish. They want baggy eyes, evidence of sleepless nights, a few photo-ops, Kennedy-style, of the president staring gloomily through the Oval Office windows into the distance.
And this prompts a question in their minds. Why does George Bush breach educated class etiquette so grievously? Why does he seem so certain, decisive and sure of himself, when everybody--tout le monde!--knows that anxiety and anguish are the proper poses to adopt in such times.
The U.S. press is filled with psychologizing. And two explanations have reemerged.
First, Bush is stupid. Intellectually incurious, he is unable to adapt to events.
Secondly, he is a religious nut. He sees the world as a simple battle of good versus evil. His faith cannot admit shades of gray.
The problem with the explanations is that they have nothing to do with reality."
Read the rest of the essay for Brooks' explanation.
I suspect there's something else going on, which is simple partisanship. Consider that the last President who identified an emerging threat to U.S. security and altered American foreign policy accordingly was famous for his decisiveness.
Curiously, however, neither history nor the Democrats have judged Harry S Truman to have been too decisive.posted by Dan on 03.14.03 at 02:47 PM