August 2, 2006

What You Know About The Middle East

…is probably more than the President, if his words are any indication. If you’ve spent two minutes thinking about the middle east, you’re probably one up on him. Consider this:

(Sheer boredom may have sent him tumbling to new depths of ignorance.) “There’s a lot of suffering in the Palestinian territory,” Bush mused, “because militant Hamas is trying to stop the advance of democracy.”

It is? Has Bush forgotten that Hamas came to power as a result of elections that he insisted the Palestinian Authority hold? […] He returned to the theme later in the press conference: “One reason why the Palestinians still suffer is because there are militants who refuse to accept a Palestinian state based upon democratic principles.”

That’s absurd. The president appears to be totally unfamiliar with what is perhaps the single most-discussed topic in international politics. Nothing gets people disagreeing quite like the subject of how to apportion blame for the Palestinian peoples’ considerable suffering. But absolutely nobody blames Arab militants opposed to democratic principles. Terrorists opposed to Israel’s very existence? Sure. Israeli intransigence? Why not. But only someone paying no attention whatsoever would subscribe to Bush’s theory.

The President’s Ignorance Is Dangerous

As he revealed in the famous on-mic conversation, he seems to think that Syria has some sort of control over Hezbollah, and so Syria is the key to stopping them. However:

  1. It ain’t true. While Syria has provided support to Hezbollah, it’s not clear at all that they could do anything about the armed militia short of re-occupying Lebanon against the UN resolution that helped send them packing the last time.
  2. If it were true that Syria could stop Hezbollah, shouldn’t our government be trying to convince Syria to do that? Somehow? But we’re not.
  3. Apparently, Kofi can just speed-dial Assad and nip this whole middle east problem in the bud. According to our president.

I have an idea. Why not get a bunch of pro wrestlers together and form a MEWF (Middle East Wrestling Federation). We’ll name the different wrestlers after middle east countries and organizations. Then we let Bush watch as different wrestling matches tell the story of middle east politics and war in a sort of pantomime form.

…and that’s how wrestling saved the world, Billy!

Posted by James at August 2, 2006 2:15 AM
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Is Bush ignorant? Or does he just assume the majority in America is ignorant and is cynically pushing this business of Hamas battling democracy?

I can't decide. I'm sure he's not stupid. But I'm also sure he's agressively ignorant. That is, he goes out of his way not to be informed. What I can't decide is when his statements get this outrageous are we seeing genuine ignorance,or is he assuming that a general population where the majority now think Saddam had WMD and that Iraq had a role in 9/11 certainly can not keep track of "little" details such as the elections in Palestine that brought Hamas to power.

What scares me is that while we will done with Bush in a couple of years, the uninformed electorate which put him inpower continues to thrive and dealing with it is, I'm afraid, more problematic than dealing with any one politician.

Posted by: Greg at August 2, 2006 4:39 AM

I'll argue, although this is slightly off-topic, that Bush is ignorant and not very smart.

My first reason is that his SAT scores were lower than mine. Pretty darn lower. And I know that I couldn't run the country. Maybe he's "smart" at something else, but it isn't running things.

He ran several companies into the ground, no? I see no political reason for doing that. He's ignorant, somewhat lazy for a president, and not smart enough to be a good president -- not in this complicated world. Maybe he feels he can get by being an ignorant SOB, but I think once his work-day is done, he flops on his couch and watches American Idol.

Posted by: Maggie at August 2, 2006 7:41 AM

Maggie, Bush may not be smart, but he's crafty. He has surrounded himself with minions who will do his bidding. You don't think he's making any decisions himself, do you? He's farming all his work out to others who formulate responses for him, he chooses what he likes, and goes from there.

I have to say he's not smart, but he's wily and crafty. He knows exactly what he's doing, which is a very poor job.

Posted by: Patti M. at August 2, 2006 8:32 AM

I think "willfully ignorant" is accurate. He selects opinions and facts that agree with his simplistic worldview and bases decisions on whether they will hurt America. Unfortunately his image of America is probably limited to a few cattle ranches in Texas.

Posted by: Mike at August 2, 2006 8:54 AM

Yeah, that's it. He's always telling us how "simple" things are. They're simple to him because he chooses to focus only on the simplest points, at most. "Cognitive dissonance" is not a problem, because I don't believe there's much cognition going on.

At one time I thought he *might* be smart, but only playing dumb. That could be considered crafty. But over the last few years, I've become more and more convinced that not only is he not smart, he's not even crafty. He has trusted advisors handle the craftiness for him.

His pre-political career, as well as his reactions to major crises whenever he's on one of his frequent, lengthy vacations, supports this theory. Not smart. Not crafty. Kinda lazy.

Posted by: Julie at August 2, 2006 10:17 AM

Bush isn't a details guy and he seems to frown upon dissent and discussion. I'm not sure he's aware that following his gut feeling isn't the appropriate way to deal with some complex global issues.

Posted by: Mike at August 2, 2006 11:17 AM

My gut feeling is usually hunger, though today it seems to be nausea.

I once read in a fortune cookie that an empty stomach is a poor political advisor, but I'd argue that a full stomach isn't a very good advisor either, since it's easy to forget what it's like to be hungry.

Uh, my point is, if you have a brain, you don't have to think with your digestive organs at all.

Posted by: Julie at August 2, 2006 11:51 AM

Bush is always on vacation. I should have so much vacation time! My job isn't 1/1,000,000 as important as his, and I have only three weeks.

As for my gut, well, I think it's the heat that is making me feel less than spectacular. I would not trust it to guide me in decision-making this week.

I'm ready for September and, of course, the end of Bushco.

Posted by: Patti M. at August 2, 2006 12:13 PM

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