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Mallaby on Bush and Character

His phraseology is different -- raising intellegence as a character issue rather than as an alternative to character -- but this is basically in line with what I think.

I should say that I just went to see a Christian conservative group host a movie all about Bush and God and character. The case they make, in essence, is that politics and politicians are basically corrupt and unprincipled and that there are no systemic remedies to this problem. What's good about George W. Bush is that he knows God's love and fears God's wrath (as witnessed by his turn away from alcoholism, which is heavily emphasized) so he avoids the tempations of office. This is, obviously, not something I agree with, but it's interesting to see the thinking laid out in a fairly coherent manner.

August 30, 2004 | Permalink


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That article was traditional Bush-excusing stuff. Consider:

"The same goes, until a few days ago at least, for the more recent handling of the Iraq question. Bush has been so caught up on his strong-leader kick that he has found it difficult to pause, adjust his policies and admit error -- even when error became obvious." [followed by a number of low-character examples].

Now, what does 'caught up on his strong-leader kick' really mean, except that he was enjoying the power and privilege, and not carrying out the responsibilities and hard work?

Posted by: Barry | Aug 30, 2004 12:38:03 PM

[Blockquote: Whole second paragraph]

Holy crap, that facile logic again. 'Bush is a Christian'--just enough patness to snag a cognitive handle in the simpler among us. You hear this a lot if you get out of Manhattan (hint hint). I say this from experience, having left Manhattan for Nevada in 2002 and hearing this same kind of poo-poo from the self-satisfied fundies that infest Las Vegas.

It falls into the 'heuristics' discussion in the New Yorker article on voter behavior from last week. Depressing reading, that, eh?

Posted by: djangone | Aug 30, 2004 12:51:40 PM

"Now, what does 'caught up on his strong-leader kick' really mean, except that he was enjoying the power and privilege, and not carrying out the responsibilities and hard work?"

Beautiful. A much better attack on George Bush is on laziness and irresponsibility, rather than lack of intelligence. A) It resonates better in the heartland, and B) it is beyond dispute.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 30, 2004 1:12:42 PM

I'll take an opportunistic corrupt politician any time, but please, please keep away the one who is talking directly to god. Please.

Posted by: abb1 | Aug 30, 2004 1:56:52 PM

I've been seeing promo faxes for that new Bush movie. It looks like nothing so much as the Frontline doc about Bush's faith. Which, IIRC, was roundly condemned by the religious right as being unfair to their Georgie. (Probably without having seen it, since I found it too kid-glove to be unfair about anything.)

Posted by: Grumpy | Aug 30, 2004 2:03:03 PM

I don't believe GWB has ever referred to himself as an "alcoholic." That would require honesty and humility. Additionally, it might indicate a willingness to treat the problem beyond merely "putting a plug in the jug." He epitomizes the most obnoxious symptoms of "dry drunk" syndrome

Posted by: Mike Finnigan | Aug 30, 2004 3:14:21 PM

abb1 wrote:

"I'll take an opportunistic corrupt politician any time, but please, please keep away the one who is talking directly to god. Please."

Which begs the question, which one is Bush? Actions seem to suggest the former, but I keep hearing that he's the latter.

Posted by: Jon | Aug 30, 2004 3:29:58 PM

So, the conservative Christian group thinks Bush, "avoids the temptations of office." How would they define temptations?

It's pretty darn tempting to start thinking you can remake the whole world. Starting with the Middle East.

It's tempting to reward your friends regardless of their qualifications for office.

It's tempting to sit back and let others run the show now that you've made it to the big house.

It's tempting to insist on going to bed at 10:30 regardless of what's happening in the world. Although to be fair, I understand that Bush waited til 10 of 11 to go to bed on 9/11.

Posted by: moog | Aug 30, 2004 5:35:20 PM

One of Mallaby's more obnoxious statements:

"Bush's radicalism -- his willingness to see problems and embrace bold solutions despite urgings of caution from all sides -- can be glorious when applied to a good cause: Think of his huge expansion of international AIDS funding, which goes way beyond anything the Clinton administration ever contemplated."

But of course, while GWB called for a huge expansion of AIDS funding, he didn't actually come up with the money--his proposal was $10 billion over 5 years, but he only sought half a billion this year. Most of that, incidently, was obtained by cutting the budget for vacinating children . . .

Posted by: rea | Aug 30, 2004 6:16:12 PM

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