Thursday, July 29, 2004

Esquire: The Case for George W. Bush, i.e., What if he's right? A Liberal Has Second Thoughts

In Esquire today,the most intriguing article. A confirmed Bush hater ("What an asshole. Ah. That feels better. George W. Bush is an asshole, isn't he? Moreover, he's the first president who seems merely that, at least in my lifetime.") begins to think, I mean really think.

The writer is Tom Junod, about whom I know little. After reading this, I will do some research. He writes after viewing a photo taken of Mr. Bush at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony and relates his first impression.
He not only has led us into war, he seems to get off on war, and it's the greedy pleasure he so clearly gets from flexing his biceps or from squaring his shoulders and setting his jaw or from landing a plane on an aircraft carrier-the greedy pleasure the war president finds in playacting his own attitudes of belligerence-that permitted me the greedy pleasure of hating him.
Then, Mr. Junod reads the speech that Mr. Bush gave.
Then I read the text of the speech he gave and was thrown from one kind of certainty-the comfortable kind-into another.
Still, I have to admit to feeling a little uncertain of my disdain for this president when forced to contemplate the principle that might animate his determination to stay the course in a war that very well may be the end of him politically.
The people who dislike George W. Bush have convinced themselves that opposition to his presidency is the most compelling moral issue of the day. Well, it's not. The most compelling moral issue of the day is exactly what he says it is, when he's not saying it's gay marriage.

We were attacked three years ago, without warning or predicate event. The attack was not a gesture of heroic resistance nor the offshoot of some bright utopian resolve, but the very flower of a movement that delights in the potential for martyrdom expressed in the squalls of the newly born. It is a movement that is about death-that honors death, that loves death, that fetishizes death, that worships death, that seeks to accomplish death wherever it can, on a scale both intimate and global-and if it does not warrant the expenditure of what the self-important have taken to calling "blood and treasure," then what does? Slavery? Fascism? Genocide?
If we do not find it within ourselves to identify the terrorism inspired by radical Islam as an unequivocal evil-and to pronounce ourselves morally superior to it-then we have lost the ability to identify any evil at all, and our democracy is not only diminished, it dissolves into the meaninglessness of privilege.

Read it all, but pour a cup of coffee first, because it is a long one. You may want to read it a couple of times, so as not to miss any salient points.
Warning: It is neither pro-Bush nor anti-Bush, neither Left nor Right, neither liberal nor conservative (disappointing everyone, I suppose.) Mr. Junod simply makes the following observation;
I have to admit that when I listen to him speak, with his unbending certainty, I sometimes hear an echo of the same nagging question I ask myself after I hear a preacher declaim the agonies of hellfire or an insurance agent enumerate the cold odds of the actuarial tables. Namely: What if he's right?

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