March 11, 2003
Bush and Me and Clinton

In her resonating and interesting Fog Index piece, Anne recently cited me in a conversation she and I had following Geo W Bush's "informal" address to reporters with loaded and deferrable questions. She summarized there that my position was that Bush's language use has to do with with his (and his administration's) lowered expectations of the American people. This is in fact a large part of my position, and probably as succinct a statement as I would be able to pull out. But I think there's more to it than that - as I decry Bush's apparent lack of nuance, perhaps I can lend some of my own to the citation.

For me, the issue is that Clinton (and according to some nifty reporting the New Yorker did a few years back, Gore) were willing to actively engage with the public on an individual and group basis and engage with ideas and disputation on a personal basis. Assuredly not perfectly (after all, too much engagement with ideas ahead of action may be part of what lead to the demise of uniform health coverage).

Bush, by contrast, appears interested in engaging only with sources or ideas determined by himself to be trusted. In a recent example, he will take a meeting with (Papal Legate) who he has known for some time, as a connected man. He has not taken a meeting with the minister of the church he attends each week (granted, said minister is a representative of chuches across the spectrum who are in opposition to military action in Iraq - but so was the message from the Pope).

This anecdote comes from this recent article in the NYT regarding Bush's willingness to take big decisions alone and without apparent anguish as expressed by Clinton or the first Bush. And while I, an only child to Bush's family values heritage, can certainly respect the need for solitude, thinking and deciding is as often a collaborative activity as a voice of one.

This isolation is not to imply that Bush is not an intelligent man. He is, in a visceral way. But he doesn't appear to be an abstract thinker to the outside world, no visible jockeying for decision in his own mind. Too much of either is less than a blend of both.

Posted by esinclai at March 11, 2003 07:04 PM |

It's funny that you should say this, because I was talking to someone from Belgium recently who expresses a very similar idea. He related it back to Bush's thoughts on religion, where is obviously quite a fundamentalist.

In this guy's opinion, Bush sees things as either good or evil, right or wrong. There is no complexity to the thinking: Saddam is bad, so a war with them must be good.

I have to say that I am quite in agreement with the people at KittyJoyce on this one. Independent of the politics they represent, ith Bush I feel utterly lied to when he speaks; with Clinton I at least was interested when he spoke. In both cases, it's because of how they say it.

Posted by: Brian on March 13, 2003 12:49 PM
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