Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters
socratic

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Child Knowing vs. Adult Knowing

It always surprises me when people refer to or comment on George Bush's certainty. I've watched Bush speak on a great number of occasions, and while it's true that he appears to be certain about the things he is saying, his certainty is that of the student, not the teacher.

Al Franken once compared conservative and liberal patriotism. He said that conservatives love America like a child loves its parent. America can do no wrong, is always in the right, and must be followed no matter what. Liberals, he argued, love America like an Adult loves an equal. They are aware of its flaws and foibles, and want to help it get its shit together. They don't tolerate its bullshit and remember the mistakes it's made in the past. Rather than declaring its flaws to be merits they acknowledge them as flaws and love despite it. It is a mature sort of love.

Well George Bush speaks to the public like a child reciting a fact he has learned at school. He says "We found the weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq" in the same way a kid says "Columbus discovered America." It is a fact, and he has learned it, and now he wants to tell it to you so you can see how smart he is. This is pretty much true of everything he says. Even "I'm the decider" has the sort of ring of a kid bragging that "It's my allowance, and I get to spend it however I want!" That's what daddy told him, so it must be true.

Given the way Bush speaks, and a great amount of other evidence surrounding his administration and advisors, I think it's logical to draw one of two conclusions. Either Bush is a brilliant chameleon, who uses his aww-shucks appearance of being a dim-bulb to hide his machiavelian scheming, or he is the intellectually incurious man he appears to be and when he speaks he is mostly parroting things he's been told by the people around him.

I tend towards the second explanation.

If that is the case then Bush is no more "The Decider" than a kid who is told "You can have a stupid cookie now, or you can save your money and buy an awesome bicycle in a couple of months" and chooses to buy the bike. Yes it's ultimately his decision, but it's not one being freely made.

If one views the Bush administration in this framework, that of a dim child following the suggestions of his elders, I think a lot of things fall into place. Two things that do not, however, is the press' treatment of him, and the claims made by his allies that he is a man of strong convictions and moral certainty. He may have strong convictions, but are they really his, or is he just parroting back what he's been told? He may have moral certainty, but is it adult certainty fairly earned, or is it the sort of certainty one has after going to church and hearing the preacher rant about homosexuality for an hour?

Bush frequently talks about his historical legacy (in a way that makes me think that Dick and Karl have whispered into his ear that he'll be remembered as a great president). Ultimately he may go down as a dim, gullible, man who happened to have the right name at the wrong time, and did irreparable damage to our country through his inability to think things through in a serious, adult, manner.
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