Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Sunday, October 09, 2005  

Hope is a Fool

Someone once pointed out that the terrible thing about attending to politics is that you never lose by so much that you give up hope for a change of fortune. You keep being tantalized.

For Republicans and conservatives, Bush in 2000 was the Great Right Hope. When we looked at the record, though, all we saw was that he improved education in Texas (a myth we wanted to believe. Every governor plays with test scores to claim he has improved education), and that he worked well with Democrats in Texas.

Other than being George H.W. Bush's son, he had nothing else going for him.

In the first few months in office, he managed to get tax cuts which the liberal pundits assured us would not pass through Congress. They did, and Bush looked like someone who might get even more done as people continued to "misunderestimate" him.

Then 9/11 happened. In a short period of time, we knew we were in a dire war, and knew what needed to be done: destroy any government that gave aid and comfort to the Islamic terrorists.

Against the liberal pundits and news media who assured us Afghanistan was a quagmire, we altered the country with incredible speed and little cost.

And then Bush stalled. He knew Iraq had to be next, and not simply because they might have WMDs. But in trying to build an absurd coalition as there had been in Desert Storm under his father, he allowed his friends like Tony Blair to ruin the wave of popular momentum he had gained.

The Axis of Evil was never going to be seriously attended to. Bush put all his eggs into one basket, and that became Iraq. The new mission was not to destroy terror supporting governments, but democratizing Muslims.

And everything began to fizzle. Having failed to secure the dangerous areas of Iraq, nor secure its borders, military decisions were being over-ridden by political ones. Fallujah was turned over to the terrorists and many other nests allowed to develop. Mistakes happen in war, but these weren’t military mistakes, they were political ones by men who had not the heart for serious battle.

The great initiative that Bush started came to a screeching halt and was overcome with fear. Fear of the MSM, fear of the UN, fear of European opinion, fear of the Left, fear of Democratic opposition. The great American Gulliver laid down for a moment and the Lilliputians got to work.

Something happened in the White House, a case of nerves, and Bush trembled with the fear that he might not succeed in making Iraq a safe place. Imagine how it shook him when he contemplated that Iraq would devolve into a civil war with three sides and everyone in the world could point at him and declare, “I told you so, you war mongering buffoon”.

Thus, he tied us into Iraq until the inevitable happens: Iraq tears itself apart as democracy fails to establish itself and the tribes begin their endless wars with each other.

Bush was elected because we hoped he would be better than Clinton and his ilk. He was re-elected because we trusted him with our national security better than Kerry and his ilk.

But what is there to hope for from Bush now? He cannot really be counted on to lead. He doesn’t follow through on initiatives, nor fight for anything in Congress. Many people have turned against the war in Iraq, not because they are against war, but because they want it to be fought with fierceness and power. The blunder in appointing Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court has divided and demoralized his Party. His remarks about spending money to fight poverty after the New Orleans flood has exposed him as a classic, big government, goo goo liberal.

One of the problems is that we always hope for a Great Leader, a contemporary savior of some kind whether we have faith in the Divine or not. In democracies, we get stuck with mediocrities who do more harm than good. Whereas in any other system -- emperor, monarchy, oligarchy -- there is enormous harm done and very little good.

History has afforded us a few glimpses when a Great Man has governed well and managed a state competently, and so we keep hoping to elect someone fit for the job. There is much at stake, after all, but what hope can we have?

After 9/11 conservatives and many liberals, said, “Thank God, we have Bush and not Gore.” It seemed like divine providence. Bush himself believes he was uniquely placed in office for that moment. It’s not a wild assertion to believe in providence, but after these last four years, many have to be asking, “God, was Bush the best you could get for us at the time?”

For years now I have tried to give Bush the benefit of the doubt. “He has been resolute on the war,” we keep hearing from Republican Party cheerleaders. But it seems that not a month goes by when a few more items get added to the Con side of the ledger and none to the Pro side.

Well, I’m done with Bush. I have taken the measure of the man, I have seen his heart, and I am not the least impressed. He has no guiding principles. I can’t even say I admire his Christian principles since I don’t know what they are, either, other than some boilerplate spiritual utterances, and pious doings.

Do I really feel better knowing that the President is someone who prays everyday and over every major decision? Not in the least since I have no idea what place truth has in his ruminations with the Lord. For all I know, he might believe that God favors his conclusions because he hasn’t been struck down by lightning yet.

I would rather know that Bush is wise than that he is pious. That he is more like Elijah than Peter.

The office of Great Leader is never a place for reflective men, although a few like Washington and Lincoln may dispute that. Washington was a man of action, certainly, yet his formulation of principles to live by, his Farewell Address, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention suggest that while not an “intellectual”, he was capable of complex reasoning married to strong portions of wisdom.

Lincoln was the opposite. He was an intellectual, someone who reflected deeply on verities, history, and humanity who became a President who had to become an active man and war leader.

I did place some hope on Bush that he was better than an average politician. I considered that his reliance on God was a powerful and positive aspect of his character, but as I have learned -- conversion can help a man change his behavior, but it doesn’t necessarily change his personality. It changed his heart, but I don’t think it really changed his mind, his mental toolkit.

I think his leadership style is like an MBA’s. He likes the executive decision in which he decides what the right thing to do is, and then expects everyone to fall in line with it. But politics is a matter of consensus and representing what others, the people, think is right to do. He has previously strained the bonds of Party loyalty with his actions, but this time he exposed himself most fully to his own Party as a man who is not a team player, so to speak. By refusing to choose a judge from the conservative batting order, and by doing it so cavalierly with a demand for unwarranted trust, he demonstrated that he is not a conservative so much as his own little tin God when it comes down to it.

Bush had nothing to lose by consulting more with Republicans than Democrats, and everything to gain. Even if he had lost a floor fight in the Senate, he would have cemented and increased his political capital.

His perpetual comment that, “I know her heart” which he says about all his cronies, and even about Russia’s Putin (who then showed him how poor a judge of character Bush can be if he thought he made a friend in him) reflects poorly on his judgment.

I don’t care about Miers’ heart. I care about her judgment, wisdom, and record.

I expected Bush to have clay feet. I didn’t expect to find him willful and somewhat vapid. Why should anybody commit themselves to helping the Republicans maintain power when this is what they get for their trouble -- not a single voice at the table. Or one that is simply dismissed when the politician has gotten the office he wanted.

On the Right for a number of years now there has often been a hagiographic character to many profiles on Bush, on his genuineness, his Texas swagger, his naturalness with the folks, and his virtues as a leader. As a person, Bush is not without virtue, decency, kindness, and empathy. He does have a Christian manner and sincerity which very pleasing, but as a politician and leader I find him unskilled, hesitant, fearful, and unprepared to do battle.

Simply put, I don’t trust him and I think millions of others may have suddenly joined me in that feeling.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:11 PM |