Sunday, October 17, 2004

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

I was afraid of George W. Bush before I read the New York Times this morning. After reading an article in the Times magazine entitled, "Without a Doubt" my fear hit Richter scale levels (registration is required but it is free). This exchange took place in December 2002 when Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos suggested that Sweden was a good choice to provide peace keepers between the Israelis and Palestinians.

''I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,'' Bush said. ''They're the neutral one. They don't have an army.''

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: ''Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.'' Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. ''No, no, it's Sweden that has no army.''

The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

A few weeks later, members of Congress and their spouses gathered with administration officials and other dignitaries for the White House Christmas party. The president saw Lantos and grabbed him by the shoulder. ''You were right,'' he said, with bonhomie. ''Sweden does have an army.''

The point of this story is not to say that Bush is stupid. The article doesn't say that Bush is stupid, but that he applies faith based principles to governing. If he believes that something is true, then it is true and no one should suggest otherwise.

The article doesn't really tell us anything new. I am surprised that the Times did some good reporting on Bush. Of course there will be howls of protest from the right that such a critical article was printed just two weeks before election day. They will be partly right. The Times knew this stuff from the beginning of the Bush administration and should have been giving its readers this awful news for the past four years. Their lack of reporting before the invasion of Iraq was inexcusably bad. It will go down in history as one of the worst mistakes the paper of record has ever made in its history.

I end this post with a quote from an unnamed White House aide.

''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Well, now Iraq makes sense. They were creating an alternate reality. I suggest that anyone else who wants to do that should take up science fiction writing, not government.