Sooo….. George Bush went on TeeVee this last weekend, being asked some interesting questions by George Stephanopoulos. Here is something that he just sort of let fly and left flopping around the studio floor like a dying carp.
Anchor George Stephanopoulos was asking Bush about comments from James A. Baker III, who has said that the independent commission he co-chairs is pursuing alternatives to "cut and run" or "stay the course" in Iraq.
Said Bush: "Well, listen, we've never been stay the course, George. We have been -- we will complete the mission, we will do our job and help achieve the goal, but we're constantly adjusting the tactics, constantly."
“We’ve never been stay the course.” Hmmm…. Let me roll that around my mouth a bit, sort of like sampling a wine before spitting it back in the cup. “We’ve never been stay the course.” And that wasn’t -- couldn’t have been -- just a slipup. Not after White House counselor Dan Bartlett said almost the same thing the next day. This must be yet one more Bush talking points, where all his minions are sent out to their favorite media outlets and repeat the same thing. Lately, it was “cut and run Democrats”. Earlier on, I remember the phrase “historical revisionist”. Everyone was saying that for about three days, then that catchphrase that never caught fire must have been shuttled off to the dustbin.
This week, it is “We’ve never been stay the course.” This is just so astounding to me. I really and truly cannot figure out which one of the only three things that this can possibly represent.
The first is that Bush truly believes what he says and cannot remember that, for the last several years, “stay the course” has been his one and only answer to any question about Iraq. It’s the opposite side of the coin from “cut and run Democrats”. Sort of like “yin/yang” and “Abbott /Costello”, one cannot exist without the other, at least in the mind of Bush and his neocon followers. That’s all I have heard from Bush and his supporters for the last eight months or so.
The second possibility is that Bush knows exactly what he is saying and what a load of cow flop that it really is, but he is banking on the stupidity and gullibility of at least a majority of the voting American public to take him at his word and continue to vote Republican in two weeks time. After all, this has worked out fine many times in the past (e.g., WMD in Iraq), so why not this time as well? It isn’t as if they have a lot else to offer. Obfuscation as a tactic works very well, so why abandon it now?
The third and final possibility is that Bush doesn’t even care if his answers make sense, and doesn’t really care if anyone believes him or not. I have been noticing this tendency in some people, mostly conservative Republicans for some time now. As long as they can utter anything in response, as long as they can appear that they are in control and have a retort to whatever comes their way, that is all that it takes to make them happy. It doesn’t matter if they believe if themselves, and they don’t even care if it makes sense or convinces the person or persons they are talking to. It isn’t important. Their psyche is satisfied; they have made the effort. It isn’t their fault if no one believes them.
So, I can’t really say which category that Bush really falls into. I have seen a number of people argue for the first. Bush is a non-recovered dry-drunk who is heavily into denial about his own shortcomings and has a lot of emotional investment into his defensive ego protection mechanisms. It is no surprise that such a person could utter something that totally contradicts what he was saying just last week, so long as that protects himself from any possible blame or criticism. I could certainly buy this argument. However, I don’t really like to consider the possibility that the current President of the United States of America is out-and-out delusional. That is what a person would really have to be in order to act the way he is acting just to cover up his own shortcomings. Who knows what a person might do if really pushed on a bad day? Dropping a nuke on Iran just to spite Democrats isn’t that much of a stretch.
The second possibility is also very plausible. It depends greatly on 1) Bush’s ego, 2) his utter contempt for the American people (or anyone else he decides is beneath him), and 3) his love of unfettered power. This is a very, very cynical view of the man and his handlers. However, if it were true, he wouldn’t be that much different that the people who were in power in the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. It is extremely possible to find people in today’s supposed Enlightened and Rational Age that are indeed that power hungry, who would do anything at all in order to remain in power and destroy their enemies. Again, that possibility is very disturbing to contemplate. On one hand, it might be a bit of a relief to know that Bush is using logic and understands the most likely outcome of his actions. He wouldn’t be considered to be a “madman” in the clinical sense of the word. However, this would mean that Bush will do almost anything to retain power and subjugate anyone who opposes him. Unfortunately, Bush’s own actions when viewed through this lens, show that this second possibility is very likely.
This last possibility is actually the one that I favor. I don’t know why. I have just had experiences with other, similar thinking people. I don’t mean that I know people who would use a national tragedy like 9/11 to go invade a country they were itching to go after before they even got into office and were just looking for an excuse. No, I mean that I have met people who would say just about anything when you hit them up with a question or point that they can’t answer. They just blurt out the first thing that comes into their heads. It doesn’t have to really address the point that was being made. It doesn’t even have to be rational or consistent. The important thing was that they need to have some pat answer that could, somehow, be justifiably seen as answering their critics. That’s all that is required, in their minds.
I suppose that this last possibility is actually part and parcel of the first possibility that I laid out. No doubt, psychologists have worked that all out long ago.
The main thing that comes from this sort of “thought experiment” is that, no matter which option you pick, it isn’t a very good conclusion for America. This is a man who has been handed the stewardship of the richest and most powerful country that has ever existed. He is treating it like his private plaything. He doesn’t consider the possible results of any of his actions after he leaves office. He takes no responsibility for any of the terrible things that have occurred as a direct result of his decisions. Having absolutely no fear or concern for any future events because you know that they can’t touch you removes all possible constraints for any decision you might want to make, no matter the reason.
I am hoping that a newly elected Democratic majority in the House, the Senate, or better yet, both, can put the brakes on this guy for the final two years of his term. If we get neither, then I really fear for the future of this country. What might happen in the last two years of Bush’s reign might make the first six look insignificant by comparison.
UPDATE: O.K, based on what has been going on about this "flip flop by any other name", it is obvious that the real answer for this particular question is #2. This renaming is now such a transparent political ploy, it is almost incomprehensible. Yes, this shows the absolute distain that Bush and his cronies have for the American public. Watching Tony Snow trying to do the linguistic equivalent of Chinese contortionists has been surreal. His feigned amazement that anyone would actually think that "stay the course" really meant... stay the course has been a wonder to behold.