26 March, 2008

Bush's War

When I first saw the promo for the PBS series Bush’s War, I was ambivalent about the whole thing. The marketing was such that it appeared to be a pretty lopsided romp through the last few years with the distinct flavor of leftist agitprop. I was pleasantly surprised to encounter an exceptionally well done documentary that was both disturbing and hopeful at the same time. I was disturbed by the President’s unwillingness to listen to moderating voices from his own government and even within his own staff and pleasantly surprised that there were those in government who performed their respective jobs admirably and competently, whether listened to or not.

What I came away with was not a total disappointment in the American government, but a clear disappointment in an insular executive that refused to listen to the voices of knowledge and experience in key positions. The sooner Americans, especially conservatives, realize that Iraq has been a public policy disaster resulting from the administrations refusal to listen to the guys in the field (politics be damned) the better off we’ll be. This was not a failure for conservatism or a victory for liberalism; this was a simple case of bullheaded hubris perpetrated in the main by the trio of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. To put my own conclusion slightly more bluntly, if the next president goes in with the mantra of either stubbornly perpetuating current policy or stubbornly reversing current policy without first listening to the people whose job it is to know something about a given topic, we’ll forever be caught in the endless political dance of platforms and platitudes over reason, knowledge, and prudent judgment based therein.

Check out the documentary and the huge archive on the website and draw your own conclusions, I’d love to hear what you think afterwards.


Anonymous said...

The closed mind set is not isolated within the Bush administration. It's spreading out to all the conservative, Evangelical Christian, Republican people. For some reason, they're all think the world in a simple black and white form. For example, they're thinking that they're the good guy vs everyone else who disagrees with them is the bad guys; Republican = conservative = good vs Democratic = liberal = bad; Capitalism = free trade (even thought here in the US captalism is the form of corporate socialism) = good vs Socialism = communism (they're refusing to heard the correction that those're not the same); Christian = good vs non-Christian = atheist = bad;.... I think the correct way to describe Bush, his administration, his party, and his followers is "stuborn and stupid".

Matt said...

I would say that mindset is pretty deeply rooted in the American political landscape, conservative or liberal. The main difference is that while the liberal side is based largely on a secular humanist ideology, the conservative side has roots in religion. That makes it slightly more worrisome for me.

In the documentary, however, I saw people who were experts in their various fields, not identified as conservative or liberal (though I imagine many were conservative), who were able to reasonably rise above political associations and make prudential judgments on how to actually solve the problems at hand. The only problem was that if their judgment went against the will of the triumvirate, they were shouted down or removed.

Tim J. said...

"I would say that mindset is pretty deeply rooted in the American political landscape, conservative or liberal."

I would say it is pretty deeply rooted in humanity, mired as it is in original sin.

Yes, the sane middle (as opposed to the mushy middle) ground has been increasingly abandoned over my lifetime, by those on the left AND right. We are polarized and Balkanized to the point that I wonder if we really have anything like a functioning society left. A country can't exist without a common culture of some kind, but we are fast retreating into our respective bunkers and giving up ties to anyone not of our camp.

I noted with pleasure your return to blogging, and enjoyed your art and music recommendations. I'll have to check out Geoff Hunt more thoroughly.

Matt said...

It is good to get back to a little blogging. I completely agree with your assessment and I like that you make a distinction between the "sane" middle and "mushy" middle. It's annoying that so many people characterize moderates as indecisive or weak. I'm perfectly capable of making decisions, those decisions just happen to fall to the right on certain issues and to the left on others. Your main point (along with the anonymous commenter above) is spot on, the bunker mentality is killing the shared American culture.

I'd love to hear an artist's opinion of Geoff Hunt's work. While I can produce some nice architectural drawings, a painter I am not. As a fan of the sea and sailing though his paintings jump out at me more than many others. He's very much the successor to Montague Dawson, another maritime artist I admire greatly.

clarky pooh said...

I love the 1 and 2 dimensional representations of political and social thought…Left, right, left of center, right of center, center of center but stage left audience right. I think the diagram needs some work. I do not think that dichotomy properly explains the sum of ideas. I love taxes and what they can do, but detest abortion. Those are 2 issues each with an apparent binary option (even that isn’t true) and I am forced to pick between 2 groups, neither of which come close to what I think is right (excuse me correct).

It will always be a choice of the less of all evils. Evils = things not agreed with = personal choice = I’ll have the Reuben with steak fries and a side of social justice. I think we need to form a 3 dimensional way to represent mental affiliation because all issues are not equal. My opinion on the designated hitter is a bit lower down the ladder from my opinion on single payer insurance; although I hold each view probably for the same reason. I believe Abortion is murder, but I should not have pick on the side of the sliding scale that also thinks the free market solves all problems. We need to encourage other options, other candidates, other parties.

If inner city blacks think the Democratic Party care for them more than the Republican Party; I would tend to imagine that both groups care for them on the same 4 year cycle. If they could make the NAACP a party or reunite the Panthers they could actually push an agenda. Instead here’s a white guy w an elephant pin and a black man / white women with a donkey pin all three of which live in the same type of area and are all from the same socio-economic sub-tribe, none of which will help you; but will put on the red dress and be your Saturday night girl. It’s just the old white guy looks the most ridiculous in the dress.

Being a large man who has worn a dress in public I can tell you it does look stupid, but the heels hurt worse and it is a good way to get noticed.

Please check out the new blog the wife is doing. http://growingupgollotte.blogspot.com/