Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Why Bush Truly Is That Stupid

In the face of the hurt and anger we liberals have endured since the U.S. Supreme Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000, we've also reveled in his many statements and deeds that seem to show a man who would not do well on a basic IQ test.

We point to Bush statements like "After all, Europe is America's closest ally," and his routine mangling of the language as signs that he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He's certainly provided Leno and Letterman with a treasure trove of "dumb" jokes over the last five years.

But to understand that Bush's lack of intellect is real – and very dangerous to U.S. interests – requires that we look at his statements through the prism of his oversimplified way of looking at the world. When that is done, one can't help but come away with the horrible realization that it's beyond a joke made by partisans. We are forced to conclude that our president really is that stupid.

For example, when trying to swat away the annoyance of the majority of Americans no longer believing in the Iraq quagmire and, in particular, Casey Sheehan's Mom, Cindy, Bush said yesterday that "I've met with a lot of [military] families. She doesn't represent the view of a lot of families I have met with."

And, to Bush, that is that.

Because George W. Bush's mind doesn't look beyond the surface level of a circumstance or an argument. To him, the easiest way to handle a complex problem is to assign a protagonist like Cindy Sheehan to an isolated group and evaluate her opinions within that small context. If Sheehan were African-American, I would not have been surprised if Bush said "I've met with a lot of black military families. She doesn't represent the view of a lot of black families I have met with."

The president doesn't understand that Cindy Sheehan is also a spokesperson for a much larger movement and, despite poll numbers that show mainstream Americans of every political stripe rejecting the Iraq war, he finds it easier to minimize her opinion by putting her in a very small box.

But that box is bigger than the president's brain can imagine.

I am 48 years old, married, with an eight-year-old son and live in New York. I've done my time in the military and my son isn't old enough to be taken. Cindy Sheehan speaks for me. I got a call from a high-school friend in Omaha, who was in tears over the idea that her daughter might join the Army and be sent immediately to Iraq. Cindy Sheehan speaks for her. And I talked recently to a single, thirty-something friend in California with no personal ties whatsoever to the Iraq war – he thinks it's bad for our country, our economy and for world peace. Cindy Sheehan speaks for him too.

Not a "military family" in the bunch there.

Sadly, we have a president whose mind doesn't travel that far or that fast. He lives in an oversimplified world and runs from larger issues by isolating opponents and categorizing them into the smallest context he possibly can – no matter how inaccurate that may be. And America is not served by the people Bush surrounds himself with, who continue to let him live in this cordoned-off fantasy world.

People often refer to the President of the United States as the leader of the free world. If that is indeed true, we have evidence beyond what the late-night hosts laugh about to suggest that he is simply not that smart a guy.

And, for the entire world, that is no joke.