Today’s Washington Post Editorial by Richard Cohen goes a long way in making me understand the “inner” Bush that has seemed so out of touch with reality. Mr. Cohen gets your attention with the first sentence.
George W. Bush has executed 153 people, 152 of them in Texas and one so far in Iraq. The Iraqi, of course, is Saddam Hussein, who went to his burlesque of a death with more dignity than the Iraqi government, which so hurried him to the gallows that in much of the world the hanging looked a lot like a lynching.
I do not know if the analysis that follows would bear up but it has the feel of a deeper truth than anything I have read about the President yet.
…Bush embraced a famously irrational way of thinking — the logical fallacy often called “proving a negative” — but in this case he used it to overwhelm all evidence to the contrary. Once you know this, you can appreciate what Bush means when he calls himself The Decider. It means that evidence, arguments, proof and logic cannot be conclusive when, as is often the case, the president proceeds on what can be called a matter of faith. I am not referring here just to religion — although surely that is paramount to Bush — but to supremely secular matters of state: when to go to war, why go to war and when to remain at war. In Bush’s mind, the bad guys will lose and the good guys will win and Iraq will become a democracy. This will happen not because Bush can prove that it will but because nobody can prove it won’t.
What this says to me is that we have in the White House a man who is incapable of seeing himself as being wrong. We all debated this for the longest a few years back and never reached an answer that I found satisfactory. Now I think I understand and it scares the hell out of me. How can you “prove” something to a man who is already assured of his own infallibility? Even after a lifetime of facts to the contrary, facts that are conveniently swept under the rug before anyone can hold them up to the light, he can think of no mistakes he may have made. Folks, believe it or not, the man does not believe he has ever been wrong. And according to his press conference a short while ago, if you come back in 200 years they will tell you he was right…isn’t that the meaning of his remark about still reading about George Washington?
The execution of Saddam Hussein was Iraq in a nutshell. Aside from the dead man at the end of the rope, nothing went the way the Americans wanted. It was sloppy, putrid with the stench of sectarian hatred and, as always, totally unnecessary. George Bush saw it differently by not, as is his custom, seeing it at all.