Thursday, July 26, 2007


Misunderestimating the President

Today's rant is inspired by a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times. The letter reads, in part:

When the President says - as he often does - that we must
stop the insurgents in Iraq or they will follow us home, does he really believe these people don't have maps? Does he think they couldn't find the U.S. without being led here by following our troop ships or cargo planes?

Well, of course George Bush knows that the insurgents have maps. If he doesn't, someone in the White House will tell him. Ascribing his absurd argument in favor of continuing the adventure in Iraq to stupidity is just an example of how badly some of us opponents of his policies misunderstand him.

We know that Mr. Bush has approval ratings in the mid twenties. That is, only one American in four approves of his policies, particularly the war in Iraq. Mr. Bush knows that also. Even if he doesn't read the newspapers, he is surrounded by people who do. His absurd, to me, argument about "fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here" is intended for his hard-core supporters, the twenty-five percent of the public that still believes in him.

I have read that at one time George W. Bush undertook to run for Congress in the district in which his ranch is located. He didn't succeed. He was advised that he should learn to talk like the people of the district; that is, drop his New England accent and speak like a West Texan. He has taken this advice to heart. He not only speaks with a West Texan accent, he frames his ideas in the way an unsophisticated and poorly educated West Texan would. The argument about keeping the insurgents so busy in Iraq that they won't try to come to the United States makes some sense to such people. Mr. Bush is a living example of the proverb that "no politician ever lost any votes by underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

On another lever, he is an example of the corollary to Abraham Lincoln's theorem about fooling the public. The corollary is that you can not only fool some of the people all the time but you can fool enough of the people enough of the time. Even though he has lost his majorities in Congress, Mr. Bush is still able to fool enough of the Representatives and Senators enough of the time to keep his ruinous adventure in Iraq going.

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