Sunday | October 05, 2003
Bush Leads a Medieval Presidency
By Meteor Blades
In his commentary in today’s Los Angeles Times, Neal Gabler calls the Bush Administration “the nation's first medieval presidency” because it has exchanged reality for a faith-based, fantasy view of the world:
The difference between the current administration and its conservative forebears is that facts don't seem to matter at all. They don't even matter enough to reinterpret. Bush doesn't read the papers or watch the news, and Condoleezza Rice, his national security advisor, reportedly didn't read the National Intelligence Estimate, which is apparently why she missed the remarks casting doubt on claims that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Africa. (She reportedly read the document later.) And although Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hasn't disavowed reading or watching the news, he has publicly and proudly disavowed paying any attention to it. In this administration, everyone already knows the truth. ...
Even the scientific community has been waved off by the medievalists. A minority staff report issued last month by the House Government Reform Committee investigating scientific research found 21 areas in which the administration had "manipulated the scientific process and distorted or suppressed scientific findings," including the president's assurance that there were more than 60 lines for stem-cell research when there were actually only 11; it concluded that "these actions go far beyond the typical shifts in policy that occur with a change in the political party occupying the White House.
All Presidents lie. Presidents are, after all, politicians. Idealists who believe their candidate for high office is immune to the temptations of deception are destined for heartbreak.
But lying is not Gabler’s point. It's new behavior that disturbs him.
[T]he White House medievalists aren't just shading the facts. In actively denying or changing them, they are changing the basis on which government has traditionally been conducted: rationality. There is no respect for facts because there is no respect for empiricism. Instead, the Bush ideologues came to power smug in the security of their own worldview, part of which, frankly, seems to be the belief that it would be soft and unmanly to let facts alter their preconceptions. Like the church confronting Galileo, they aren't about to let reality destroy their cosmology, whether it is a bankrupt plan for pacifying an Iraq that was supposed to welcome us as liberators or a bankrupt fiscal plan that was supposed to jolt the economy to health. …
Bush has a religious epistemology. Having devalued the idea of an observable, verifiable reality and having eschewed rational empiricism, he relies on his unalterable faith in himself not just to inform his policies, as all presidents have, but to dictate them.
It’s not the know-nothingism of this Administration that should scare us. It's not even the lies. It’s the studied disregard for facts, combined with a twisting of facts, combined with a profound ignorance of the world-at-large, combined with a severe superiority complex. This supercombo is what makes matters so grim.
Whether it’s our allies, our economy, our environment, our security or our children’s future, “medieval” not only describes the behavior of this Administration, it describes the dark and irrational world that we will be shackled to if we do not succeed in forcing a detour from the path Bush & Cronies are recklessly steering us down.
Posted October 05, 2003 06:51 PM | Comments (170)