Marshall, Will on Incurious George

And the fun continues, with more from Joshua Micah Marshall on Bush’s apparent ignorance of a key report on the Abu Ghraib prison abuses: Shaken, but apparently not stirred. Definitely worth reading the whole thing. Marhsall’s analysis is dead on. This is the rotten heart of the Bush presidency. From Marshall’s conclusion:

There’s an echo here of his [Bush’s] response to the pre-9/11 warnings streaming up through the government bureaucracy. It hasn’t landed on his desk yet, with an action plan, so what is he supposed to do? He talked to Rumsfeld who says he’s on top of it. So what more can be done?

This isn’t a matter of the aesthetics of leadership. It is another example of how this president is a passive commander-in-chief, how he demands no accountability and, because of that, allows problems to fester and grow. Though this may not be a direct example of it, he also creates a climate tolerant of rule-breaking that seeps down into the ranks of his subordinates, mixing with and reinforcing those other shortcomings.

The disasters now facing the country in Iraq — some in slow motion, others by quick violence — aren’t just happening on the president’s watch. They are happening in a real sense, really in the deepest sense, because of him — because of his attention to the simulacra of leadership rather than the real thing, which is more difficult and demanding, both personally and morally.

What’s that, you say? This is just typical election-year partisanship from the Bush haters of the far left? Um, no, not really. For proof of that, I give you none other than George F. Will, in an op-ed piece that appeared in the Washington Post yesterday, Time for Bush to see the realities of Iraq.

This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts. Thinking is not the reiteration of bromides about how “all people yearn to live in freedom” (McClellan). And about how it is “cultural condescension” to doubt that some cultures have the requisite aptitudes for democracy (Bush). And about how it is a “myth” that “our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture” because “ours are not Western values; they are the universal values of the human spirit” (Tony Blair).

[Several paragraphs of erudite Will-isms snipped.]

Being steadfast in defense of carefully considered convictions is a virtue. Being blankly incapable of distinguishing cherished hopes from disappointing facts, or of reassessing comforting doctrines in face of contrary evidence, is a crippling political vice.

When pundits from both ends of the political spectrum are saying essentially the same thing about your guy, it’s hard to argue away their criticisms as being the result of an anti-your-guy bias. No, at this point I think it would be simpler for Bush supporters to just admit the obvious: the man has no business being president.

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