...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, April 15, 2004
      ( 2:09 PM )
Following his black, black Heart

George W. Bush has reminded us over and over again that he doesn't make decisions based on polls. Instead, he seems to go with his own inner guidance system, one that appears, for all intents and purposes, to be badly in need of re-alignment. Saleton, over at Slate yesterday had a great article about this character trait of Bush - Bush's actions revolve around his belief that if he just keeps saying what he said before, that means he is a strong leader. Any hint of change or adjusting to changing facts on the ground means he was mistaken before, and he can never admit that.

To Bush, credibility means that you keep saying today
what you said yesterday, and that you do today what
you promised yesterday. "A free Iraq will confirm to a
watching world that America's word, once given, can
be relied upon," he argued Tuesday night. When the
situation is clear and requires pure courage, this
steadfastness is Bush's most useful trait. But when the
situation is unclear, Bush's notion of credibility turns out
to be dangerously unhinged.

Now, Saleton's article was in the context of Bush's press conference regarding Iraq. But it seems even more prescient with today's news about how Bush has decided to unilaterally deny Palestinians anything set out in the "Roadmap to Peace" and completely change the US's position on the conflict. Bush not only went along with Sharon's frightening plan to secure the existence of settlements on the West Bank, but he made it very clear that the US no longer can play any sort of "broker" role in this conflict. Oh, and he did more damage to our relations with all the other countries of the world - as if those relationships needed more hurt on them.

I can't wrap my brain around this one. At all. During the press conference, I thought Bush seemed slightly tippy, perhaps a bit unbalanced, shall we say even kooky. He didn't answer any of the questions put to him. It was as if he was a robot programmed with a certain number of key phrases and he just spit them out in random sequences as answers. But this thing with Israel completely baffles me. Bush doesn't seem to recognize reality at all. It's as if he lives in his own brain, a fluffy, non-threatening place, perhaps decorated in a calming baby blue, and he feels no need to emerge from that place to see if the ideas and decisions he generates there match up at all to the real world.

By supporting Ariel Sharon and his plan, Bush has defied international law and conventions, he has spit in the face of European allies and those countries closely involved in helping to negotiate a peaceful solution, he has affirmed to Arab countries that we have no plan whatsoever to recognize their valid arguments and positions or to work with them in any way (which really will help our position in Iraq), and he has, with the power of the US behind him, made it clear that he doesn't believe Palestinians deserve their country, the right to return to their lands, the right to be lifted out of refugee status, the right to govern themselves, or even the right to sit at the table.

It's not just me saying it.

Independent pollster John Zogby, who has surveyed
extensively in the Arab world, said: "This is pretty
much the final nail in the coffin of the peace process
as far as Arabs are concerned." He said his polling
indicates the Palestinian cause is among the top three
issues for 90 percent of Arabs in all Arab countries
he has surveyed. "It's not even a political issue, it's
a bloodstream issue," Zogby said.

Billmon puts the president's decision in perspective regarding the upcoming election:

How can something as trivial as the war against
Al Qaeda possibly compare to winning Florida's 27
electoral votes -- especially something as important
as the right of 100,000 or so Israelis to live the
Southern California lifestyle in the middle of a sea
of impoverished Palestinian is also at stake?

I don't necessarily agree that this is just for the Jewish vote though. I think it has to do with that ever-powerful fundamentalist Christian vote too. There are some inside and outside this administration that see Bush as the harkener of the apocolypse, and for Jesus to come again, certain things have to happen in the Middle East. This underlying dogma seems to thread through all of Bush's decisions about Israel and the Palestinians. Israel's dominance and power may be the motivating factor behind Bush's Likudnik advisors, but for Bush, I think in his brain, he thinks, "well, this is my pal, my buddy Ariel, and I know he's right, so there! He's right!" Billmon, in another post, says what we all know to now be true:

Unfortunately, no hope is what I think we can
realistically expect from the political process here in
America. Bush's statement marks the effective end
of any realistic chance that the United States will play
a constructive role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. Washington truly is Likud-occupied territory
now, and resistance is almost certainly futile. For
all intents and purposes, the world's only
superpower has been bound and gagged.

How can one man be so wrong on EVERY SINGLE foreign policy decision EVER?!?!?

Bush seems vacuous and unable to bring himself to a place where he can see reality, assess it, and make determinations based on factors other than what he said before. His administration seems to be flinging itself at a brick wall --at several different brick walls, because none of the various parts of the administration seem to be on the same page about anything.

If we've learned one thing from the 9/11 Hearings in the last weeks, it's that the President is undeniably uncurious, disinterested and unable to establish the kind of leadership that makes his underlings actually produce results for the benefit of the citizens of this country. Even his closest advisors find it hard to recall whether they discussed matters of utmost importance with him. Is that because they didn't, or because they know they did, but the information just disappeared into that fluffy, blue space between his ears, never to be seen again, and they're trying to cover that up?

The one thing about vacuous people is that they can often turn out to be bullies. And that is what Bush is. He's the deadly combo of simpleton-bully. He insists his way or the highway and his way is based only on his rubrick of "well, this is what I said before and I'm sticken' to it." This is bad news for us. It's bad news for the Iraqis. It's bad news for Palestinians. It's basically a very bad thing for the entire world.

UPDATE: now,what makes me REALLY nervous is that Kerry agrees with Bush on this new, unprecedented policy (read further in the WaPo article). This is not a good sign.

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