3/17/2005

Moral imbecile

Mark Crispin Miller on BuzzFlash:
I've long argued that Bush is not an imbecile -- that he boasts a certain species of political intelligence which we overlook at our own peril. (Also, I agree with others who have argued that he's suffering from some kind of physical or mental deterioration, and has got much worse over the last few years. To which we'd have to add that his ostensibly unbounded power has had its utterly predictable effect on him.) The notion that he's just a gibbering halfwit is a rather pleasurable one to many who detest him. I've always argued, and still think, that the situation is in fact much worse than that. In one sense, though -- and it's exceedingly important -- Bush is a sort of imbecile: a moral imbecile. How much of this relates to, say, his neurological condition, and how much of it relates to the condition of (what we would have to call) his soul, I don't pretend to know. But there is something definitely missing there. For one thing, he's incapable of what child psychologists call reciprocity. He can't see things from any viewpoint other than his own, which he deems always right because it's his; and if you see things differently you're wrong, and bad, because your viewpoint isn't his. (He's often made it clear that he and God see things exactly the same way.) And then there's his amazing incapacity to recognize the difference between truth and lie. Specifically, he seems to be unable to perceive that his own propaganda lies are propaganda, or -- sometimes? often? -- that they're even lies. He also seems unable to perceive that claims of which he disapproves, or with which he disagrees, are not propaganda. As I note in "Cruel and Unusual", he once rejected the idea that big food corporations ought to be required to list all the ingredients in their products: "I sense they want to run a propaganda campaign," he said -- referring to those who wanted all ingredients clearly listed. On the other hand, when he refers to "history," he's usually referring to some propaganda lie that, since everyone (him included?) bought it, must be precisely what occurred. So here he is today, refusing or unable to perceive that there is something deeply wrong -- illegal, immoral, unethical and ultimately lunatic -- with his regime's vast covert propaganda program. Since "there is a Justice Department opinion that says ... these pieces are within the law" and "factual," there can be nothing wrong with them, he said. Ignorance of the law is no excuse -- and neither is denial of reality. To say that he should be impeached does not begin to do him justice.

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