Thursday, July 12, 2007


Bush the Decider

There’s an interesting opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times today by James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn, entitled “What FDR could teach Bush.” The gist of the article is that, unlike FDR, Bush relies on a small group of advisors, principally Vice President Cheney, for help in making his decisions. The cabinet exists to show solidarity with Bush and to carry out his decisions, not to influence them. As a consequence, Mr. Cheney is the most powerful Vice President in our history.

This article about Mr. Bush and his kitchen cabinet advisors reminds me of a story I once heard about the construction of the first railroad in Russia. The engineers laid out two routes for the line to connect Moscow and St. Petersburg. Each route went through a number of cities that lay between the two ends of the line. They decided to let the Tsar have the honor of choosing the route.

Rather than welcome the chance to make a decision on his own, the Tsar was incensed at having to make a decision rather than ratify one made by his advisors. In his anger, he took a pencil and laid out another route, between the two that the engineers had chosen and which missed all the cities. Well, he was the Tsar and he had decided, and that was the route of the rail line.

My take is that Mr. Bush is incapable of making a real decision. He’s not sure of himself. He can’t handle a situation in which two well-informed and intelligent cabinet secretaries present alternative policies, one of which he has to choose. He needs to know that his choice is the correct one, whether given by God or by Dick Cheney. His insistence that he is the “decider” is a transparent effort to hide his own inability to make independent decisions.

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That's a very intriguing psychological claim about Bush (in the final paragraph).
I'm tempted to say that the only thing more dangerous than someone who thinks he's always right is someone who thinks that someone else is always right, especially if that someone else is the same person/force all the time. I think that's what's called a cult mentality.

Would Bush (were he from less wealth/position) be the type vulnerable to cults? Well they do talk about Skull 'n' Bones! And then I hear about some secretive club out your way in California but I can't think of the name - Merv Griffin and a bunch of celebs and politicians are supposedly in it and it sounds like some Greek pagan knock-off.

I don't know if either of these clubs is real. I suspect that they're both real but not nearly as freaky as people make them out to be.

Of course, to play devil's advocate, I could see that if one were part of the MOST powerful group(s) in the world, so powerful that wealth and even power itself ceases to be itneresting, transgressing conventional morality as being the ultimate privilege. (Sure you can say Bush etc. do this every day with Iraq and so on, but I mean more "freaky" I guess as opposed to militant)

I might actually have more respect for some of these conservatives if their whole public persona was a mask of suit and tie and haircut and shave and God but their "truer" lives were pagan or eccentric or Dionysian or something that would have almost any Republican screaming!
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