Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's been several days but I didn't want to let David Brooks' last column fade into infamy without my commenting.

Many already have, labeling it one of his worst (which is saying something). Steven Benen wrote, "This isn’t an argument. It’s barely even an opinion piece. It’s more a love letter than anything else." No, it's simply embarrassing, another shameful entry from a non-thinker who frankly in no way should be afforded real estate on the most influential opinion pages in the country.

As it is, Brooks stole his topic (Bush's "confidence" or odd super-optimistic mood) from a Peggy Noonan column appearing in the WSJ just days before, but Brooks paints it differently than the typically-fawning Noonan. Whereas Noonan was at least somewhat critical of Bush (rare moment), Brooks in his infinite wisdom just sees this wide-eyed mood of GW's as one backed by steadfast confidence and faith.

Here are some samples:
He’s convinced leaders have the power to change societies. Even in a place as chaotic as Iraq, good leadership makes all the difference....When Bush is asked about military strategy, he talks about the leadership qualities of his top generals. Before, it was Generals Abizaid and Casey. Now, it’s Generals Petraeus and Odierno....Many will doubt this, but Bush is a smart and compelling presence in person....
Had enough? But to truly appreciate the depths of Brooks' idiocy, you must try to read through the whole thing yourself. BTW, I just love the way Brooks presents Bush praising his military generals, with "generals" being plural because no matter the "leadership qualities" if they disagreed with Bush they were gone.

It's not very often you have one columnist at a paper writing a column in response to another columnist, but I must say that Paul Krugman comes pretty close in this regard, responding to the dimwitted Brooks column described above. (Even Krugman couldn't not respond).

Some of what Krugman wrote:
What I don’t understand is why we’re supposed to consider Mr. Bush’s continuing confidence a good thing.

Remember, Mr. Bush was confident six years ago when he promised to bring in Osama, dead or alive. He was confident four years ago, when he told the insurgents to bring it on. He was confident two years ago, when he told Brownie that he was doing a heckuva job.

Now Iraq is a bloody quagmire, Afghanistan is deteriorating and the Bush administration’s own National Intelligence Estimate admits, in effect, that thanks to Mr. Bush’s poor leadership America is losing the struggle with Al Qaeda. Yet Mr. Bush remains confident.

Sorry, but that’s not reassuring; it’s terrifying. It doesn’t demonstrate Mr. Bush’s strength of character; it shows that he has lost touch with reality.

Actually, it’s not clear that he ever was in touch with reality. I wrote about the Bush administration’s “infallibility complex,” its inability to admit mistakes or face up to real problems it didn’t want to deal with, in June 2002. Around the same time Ron Suskind, the investigative journalist, had a conversation with a senior Bush adviser who mocked the “reality-based community,” asserting that “when we act, we create our own reality.”

People who worried that the administration was living in a fantasy world used to be dismissed as victims of “Bush derangement syndrome,” liberals driven mad by Mr. Bush’s success. Now, however, it’s a syndrome that has spread even to former loyal Bushies.
Yes, most liberals "got it" all along, they/we were right. It's often difficult being ahead of the herd.

But what Krugman is pointing out concerning Bush's disturbing confidence is similar to dumb being characterized as brave. Bush is not so much confident as he is delusional, removed from reality. Anyone can appear confident in a bubble. To some extent, we can't blame him as his entire life has been charmed, his many mistakes taken care of by his father, his worries few and far between thanks to his powerful namesake. And all of this is not a problem per say -- EXCEPT IF YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Krugman closes with:
You know, at this point I think we need to stop blaming Mr. Bush for the mess we’re in. He is what he always was, and everyone except a hard core of equally delusional loyalists knows it.

Yet Mr. Bush keeps doing damage because many people who understand how his folly is endangering the nation’s security still refuse, out of political caution and careerism, to do anything about it.
It's just like a king gone mad, when he's running naked through the palace, ordering the deaths of innocent peasants just for kicks, and yet his court minions do nothing to stop him. They stand idly by, allowing the insanity to continue, enabling the carnage and ruin. In many ways, they're worse than the king who long ago lost touch with the real world.

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