I talked about this some yesterday on the blog, but I believe it bears further expounding (especially in light of what we now know about the early warnings that George Bush received on Hurricane Katrina).
One of the things that bothers me most about George Bush, is his intellectual incuriosity. He's wedded to his own ideas, so much so that he doesn't want the facts intruding on his pre-established beliefs. He doesn't seek information that might help him make more informed, intelligent decisions on behalf of our country.
In his book Against All Enemies, former White House Counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke (who served both Republican and Democratic Presidents) wrote:
"Early on we were told that "the President is not a big reader" and goes to bed by 10 o'clock. Clinton, by contrast, would be plowing through an inbox filled with staff memos while watching cable television well after midnight ... Bush wanted to get to the bottom line and move on. Clinton sought to hold every issue before him like a Rubik's cube, examining it from every angle.."
Now, some of our Republican friends might point to this and say that Bush is "decisive," and he doesn't need a lot of information before making decisions.
Well, you can be decisive, but you can also be decisively wrong! As President Clinton said during his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention: "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values."
Amazingly, Bush seems to bask and revel in his intellectual laziness. Even brags about it.
In 2000, Condoleeza Rice (who had been advising Bush on matters of foreign policy during the presidential campaign) wrote an article for Foreign Affairs magazine, outlining Bush's foreign policy.
As President, Bush once bragged during a press conference that he never read Condi Rice's article in Foreign Affairs. He said: "I don't know what you think the world is like, but a lot of people don't just sit around reading Foreign Affairs. I know this is shocking to you."
Now imagine that, Bushie. Why on earth would you want to read an article detailing what would be your foreign policy as President? Perhaps you should want to read it to make sure that you and your foreign policy adviser were on the same page?
When Bush returned to his alma mater Yale University for the first time as President, he bragged about his mediocre performance as a student there, saying: "And to the C students, I say, you, too, can be President of the United States." (This coming from the man who wanted to be known as the Education President and tried to make the No Child Left Behind Act one of his signature issues. Clearly, there's at least one child that we know was left behind, and his initials are GWB).
There used to be a time, early on in Bush's farce of a Presidency, when Bush's incuriousity and his butchering of the English language were the butt of late night comics' jokes. Sometimes, they still are.
But I honestly believe this has gone past the point of being funny now.
Hurricane Katrina revealed a lot of things to us. And I believe that one of those things revealed by Katrina, is how dangerous it can be to have an intellectually lazy, uncurious President. In this case, it helped cause the deaths of well over a thousand Americans, and caused great suffering for those who survived the hurricane.
After reading the book Thirteen Days by Robert Kennedy, one point stood out in my mind particularly.
Robert Kennedy wrote that during the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy understood that he might make a decision which could have a tremendous impact not just on American lives. He understood that if the United States became engaged in a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union, then it wouldn't be just U.S. lives as stake. The ramifications were enormous.
If we were to become engaged in conflict with North Korea or Iran, for example, does Bush have the intellectual capacity to understand the possible consequences, just as President Kennedy understood them during the 60's?
Would Bush rush to judgment and say to the world "You're with us or against us." Or would he weigh his decisions carefully and deliberately, just as Kennedy did.
Required Reading For Today: