Page Two: President Know-Nothing
The Bush culture makes a universal virtue of ignorance
People have long decried the American public's lack of knowledge about and interest in history, different religions, the Constitution, government, economics, and foreign affairs. By establishing exactly the opposite as a standard, President Bush has earned our gratitude.
I've always thought the George Santayana quote "Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them" was well-focused but wrong: Even when we know history, we seem to repeat it. It's turned out that I'm way off-base on this altogether, as Bush now has made clear. It is the muddle-headed, ivory-tower, East Coast liberal elite who get so wrapped up in "learning" and "lessons" that they lose the obvious.
A more realistic statement, in the context of American thought right now, would suggest that "those who do learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them." There is a grassroots, hardcore American frenzy to reject the overly zealous intellectualism of the immediate past, wherein issues were studied to death and overanalyzed by the elite. In a glorious return to the ideology of the Know-Nothing Party, those who are sick of the United States being mistreated and pushed around by other countries, as well as being hamstrung by American liberals, have decided to take back the night: returning to those days when real Americans knew the truth because they knew it. Forget the post-modern, secular-humanist, relative-morality, there-is-no-single-truth crap!
Freeing themselves from the almost mind-controlling influences of political correctness, minority pandering, and an overzealous interpretation of constitutional rights, they have returned to a time when people frankly spoke their already made-up minds. If a person or a group is disenfranchised or mistreated, it's pretty obvious they've brought it on themselves.
The philosophical resurgence of glorious, USA-centric thinking, combined with Bush's visionary leadership, has brought the more conservative (and thus truer) Americans into the promised land of certain knowledge. This requires no studying per se, but a chauvinistic American purity. Offending people of other religions, nationalities, or even ideological beliefs must never be a consideration; let them come to us (U.S., get it?).
These people know history: The United States is the greatest country in the world. Other countries either hate us or take us for granted. Liberals since World War II have run the government and media, but the recent conservative revolution has taken the country back. Our moral, ethical, intellectual, and religious superiority is not an easy burden to bear, but bear it we must.
Religion and Foreign Affairs
When the invasion of Iraq was pending, many, many Americans who had never visited the Middle East, never researched the subject, never read about it, nor even really spent much time thinking about it, instinctively understood the "terrorist, fundamentalist, Muslim, Middle Eastern mentality." First, of course, they assumed all those were the same ideology, under different names. Second, that they all hated this country because they were jealous of God's obvious favoritism toward us and our consequent, incredible successes.
The liberals want to coddle these cold-blooded anti-USA, anti-Christian killers, to show them respect and understand their situation: Naively, liberals believe that if they only hug these terrorist killers, they'll soon all be singing "Kumbaya" in shared brotherhood.
The right knows the truth. The terrorists just want to kill us. In fact, all of them want to kill all of us. Any response other than a military one is playing into their hands (unspoken but accepted is that our religious beliefs, form of government, morality, culture, and way of life are far superior to theirs, and most of the problem is jealousy).
By invading Iraq, we've shown the terrorists they shouldn't screw with us, or we'll bring the most violent action against them. Suggesting that the Iraq invasion is not only what the hijackers wanted but incites rather than scares terrorists demonstrates one's bleeding-heart, Marxist, anti-American, Bush-bashing mentality.
America's military might will awe the terrorists. Knowing what we can do, no nation will harbor them. We're going to kill as many of them as the bleeding-heart liberals allow. Did I mention that we'll scare them so badly they'll go back to their mud huts and goats? We know how they think, and we know just what they'll do in the face of our overwhelming military superiority.
Now, arguing that terrorists are intensely passionate fanatics who care as little for their own lives as they do for reasoned argument is just garbage. We're putting the fear of God, our God, into them! In Iraq we have responded to their attack on us on September 11; we've taken the war to the enemy, and we will win. Any other argument is just a justification for hugging them and hating the U.S.
Hussein was exactly like Hitler. We all saw how Chamberlain's appeasement policy led directly to the horrors of World War II. If only George W. had been around then to show those peace-loving, cowardly, inbred European aristocrats some balls. He would have opened a can of genuine American whoop-ass on them, and the world would now be a very different place.
There are certain truths that are overwhelmingly clear. American soldiers have fought and died in order to preserve the freedoms we enjoy. American soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq. Thus, they are fighting to preserve our way of life and the very freedoms we enjoy.
The situations with Nazi Germany in the Thirties and Iraq in the early years of this century are exactly the same:
Germany, in the center of Europe, was a threat to its neighbors, especially since the whole continent was on the verge of serious diplomatic breakdowns, which would lead to devastating consequences. Germany had been defeated in a major war not very long before, which was humiliating. Hitler was willing to kill his own people. Despite international treaty agreements, Hitler was actively rebuilding the German military into one of the most powerful in the world. He had an unreasonable percentage of the best scientists and technicians alive working for him. Again defying treaties, he had built a strong navy and the world's most powerful air force. Claiming bordering territories as historically belonging to Germany, he invaded them while the wussy Europeans tried diplomacy and negotiation to stop him.
Similarly, Iraq, in the center of the Middle East, was a threat to its neighbors, especially as the whole area has long been on the verge of serious diplomatic breakdowns, which would lead to devastating consequences. Iraq was fought to a draw in a major war not very long ago, which had been humiliating. Hussein was willing to kill his own people. Despite international treaty agreements, Hussein would have loved to rebuild his military. Unfortunately, despite many flaws and loopholes, the economic sanctions against him made this difficult. He had some scientists, although not the kind of scientific population or institutions Germany had. Access to purchasing arms and other material was severely limited. Iraq had no air force and no navy. Claiming bordering territories as historically belonging to Iraq, he invaded them but was fought to a draw by Iran and thrown out of Kuwait by an international force. Clearly, anyone with a sense of history would see how Germany and Iraq offered very similar threats to the stability of the world. Just consider the performance of Iraq's military during our invasion to realize what a potent threat they represented.
Clearly, Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, even if we haven't found them. Hussein was getting ready to give biological, atomic, and chemical weapons to terrorists. Do not dare suggest that there is no evidence of this and that it was unlikely that Hussein would arm groups pledged to destroy him. The ties between Iraq and al Qaeda were a lot closer than any evidence indicates. First, most importantly, liberals question this so it must be true. Second, leading right-wing thinkers can name al Qaeda terrorists who were in Iraq at the time. In fact, they can name all of them.
There was absolutely no need to make post-invasion plans, again, as anyone with an understanding of history would realize. As happened during World War II, after we overthrew that inhumane monster Saddam Hussein, all Iraqis Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis would run into the streets to welcome us and our Hershey's chocolate bars. They'd quickly hold elections, switching from a brutal, vicious dictatorship to a moderate, democratic, modern country. Thus, they would provide not only a reasonable voice in regional politics but also a prototype for other countries.
The debate on tax cuts revealed that many more Americans understood complex economics and the workings of the stock market than I would ever have suspected. They pointed out that FDR's New Deal, often thought to have saved this country from the Depression, actually dragged it out an extra half-dozen years. Social Security represented not only Marxist thinking but in addition outgrew its usefulness. The return on Social Security is pathetic; Americans could make a lot more money if they invested in the market. Given that it is almost impossible to lose money in the stock market (as the overall market, in almost any given period, has consistently grown), private accounts for most Americans make sense. Investing is much like returning empty bottles for the deposit money; it's that easy and that certain. Certainly, the success of small and large investors over the years indicates that this is true; only fools lose money. Arguing that Social Security is guaranteed and the stock market is a risk is simply a liberal scare tactic.
Severely cutting the taxes of the very richest Americans and transferring the burden of paying for government to working people is morally correct. The added economic burden on most Americans will be good for their souls. It isn't that Republicans are trying to please their biggest political donors, who are among the richest Americans. It's almost exactly the opposite: The richest Americans, obviously chosen by God, should be the most favored.
Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers
When 10 of Bush's judicial nominations were threatened with filibusters, I was somewhat shocked at the easy familiarity of so many people with constitutional meaning, legislative process, procedural precedence, and the true intentions of the founding fathers as regards governmental checks and balances. Surprisingly, many must be reading The Federalist Papers rather than the National Enquirer. Given the supposed disinterest of Americans in how their government operates, the depth of understanding of the history of legislative procedure and the true intention of the Constitution has to be considered as yet another tribute to Bush's leadership.
Condescendingly and at great lengths, party leaders, conservative pundits, radio talk-show hosts, and just common folk would explain how the balance of powers was unnecessary and a long agreed-upon rule was unconstitutional. The overriding argument was that, though the founding fathers had set up a constitutional republic, with lots of checks and balances, they really intended an absolute democracy in which the majority rules.
There are so many more indications of the range of knowledge and depth of understanding that most Americans have, as much as the liberal elite might mock them. The most recent example was the dialogue in the wake of Katrina. So many more people than I would have ever guessed turned out to be intimately familiar with the chain of command in facing a multistate disaster. Sure, I never could quite grasp how to diagram sentences in school, but I didn't even realize that this all-important protocol was being taught us.
First, let's not play the blame game, as the Democrats wish. It's also clear who is responsible. But let's not point fingers, except at the guilty. Didn't the president of the United States accept full responsibility, thus relieving his administration of any responsibility? Clearly, without question, the greatest failures of leadership were made by the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana! They were even responsible for damage in Mississippi, and other states as well!
Just as they wearily explained the Constitution to all of us over and over, now they are illuminating the fact that the chain of command in an emergency is known by heart by more Americans than probably know the Pledge of Allegiance. I'm pretty embarrassed that not only didn't I realize there was such a clear chain and that everyone else knew it, but that the only people who blamed the Bush administration were the Bush-bashers who so hate the president, they criticize everything he does.
As though talking to a retarded child, those who spoke as though they had studied disaster relief their whole lives laid it out, on TV, in letters, and on the radio.
First, the mayor is responsible. Not only for his urban area, but also for the consequences of years of economic devastation, inadequate education, no ongoing social outreach, overbuilding, and bad planning. Face it: He's African-American and a Democrat. We know they want a race war, hate America, and just want to blame Bush.
Next, the governor of Louisiana is responsible especially when female and a Democrat not only for her state but also for all the places affected. Least responsible is the federal government; its basic responsibility is to help fold the chairs in the auditoriums that served as shelters after the crisis is over.
So what if Karl Rove gave explicit instructions that the post-hurricane spin should be to blame the New Orleans mayor and Louisiana's governor? Let's ignore all of FEMA's documented failures, convoys of buses sent to the wrong staging areas, likewise massive amounts of supplies misdirected, to finally arrive at the right places with no one there to unload them. Forget that under Clinton FEMA had grown into a decidedly focused, professional agency. Bush knows government can't do anything, so he downsized FEMA and incorporated it into the Department of Homeland Security. In his tribute to the way American politics operated before Andrew "Stonewall" Jackson, he hired mostly Republican insiders with little experience to run the agency, which drove many of the professionals away.
Knowledge is a wonderful thing in this time of Bush, and much better and easier than reading.
There was a radio talk-show host on KLBJ Sunday night who managed to capture this extraordinary depth and range of wisdom in a few remarks. I missed the previous caller, who had evidently given him a hard time for being too easy on Bush. The host pointed out that this was just another one of those deadbeat Bush-bashers, blinded by hatred. He pointed out how fair he was being. Sure, the governor and the mayor were the ones most at fault. But he had been very even-handed, he insisted; hadn't he said, right before that caller, that there was definitely room for improvement in the Bush administration's response?
"Room for improvement" is so nicely worded. I figure that if they could only find that "room," it could prove big enough to house the entire Katrina refugee population in one place. Just another of Bush's miracles, is the only way to call it.