The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.
What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom–a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don’t need hacks.
Most folks have been lifting the quotes regarding immigration and how Bush has sundered his conservative base with his arrogance on the issue. For those of us who have opposed the Iraqi war from the very beginning, this arrogance and lack of wisdom has been apparent from the beginning. He may have ‘stood up’ on 9/11, but it didn’t take long for the arrogance to resurface.
Many folks voted for Bush II thinking that he was the true successor to Reagan, that he, George W. was gonna make up for the weakness of his father. In my opinion, W didn’t come even close to that weakness. His father had the wisdom to at least build a coalition for his war, and to retreat when the mission was truly accomplished.
Someday, the religious right are going to realize they’ve been bamboozled every bit as the old-guard philosophical conservatives. This administration painted themselves as Reaganites, as Christian warriors and as compassionate conservatives. In the ever-spiraling end-game, the paint wears off, revealing the twisted logic of the boy genius, the eternal sneer of Cheney, and a man who might not even be able to define wisdom much less directed by it, standing together in the rubble.
A man who inched into office vowing to eschew the policy of nation building, has finally, at last, lived up to his word.