Froomkin titles today’s post “Bush’s Eternal Sunshine”.
Bush’s approval ratings are in the toilet and there are ample signs that the nation is hungering for a new direction. Yet Bush’s aides say they believe the public’s attitude has improved — apparently because he sees less hostility on his increasingly furtive trips outside the White House — and in a meeting yesterday with a group of sycophantic journalists, Bush insisted that he’s in a great mood.
Emerging from the meeting, National Review’s Larry Kudlow captured the central personality.
Mr. Bush reiterated what he has said in a number of these meetings, that in the office of the president, character matters a lot. He said you have to have clear principles and strong beliefs to execute all the responsibilities that are part of the job.
…I would say as someone who has been privileged to attend these gatherings in the past, not only did the president show the inner strength he always has, but when he does reflect on the tumultuous events of his tenure, he is completely at peace with himself and his decisions.
As if that were praiseworthy.
For Bush supporters, of course, it is: as Colbert said, with Bush you know he believes the same things on Wednesday that he did on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Bush has managed to continue to believe strongly in something that’s blatantly false, and there’s nothing more admirable to people like those I grew up around. They’re disdainful of the personal impurity that accompanies information, which, after all, is of this world, and therefore matters not. It’s such fine folks who’ve been known to decide that all the real books written before a mythical event should be burned, thus creating their own darkness. In which, truth be told, they were probably happy as pigs in their normal environment.
It’s not cleanliness, in other words, but ignorance that’s next to Godliness, according to this view. All you need to know is right there in the handbook He gave us; patience and exegesis will extract whatever meaning you need. If He didn’t find dinosaurs worthy of mention, they must not have been relevant to the plan. After all, you know, it’s possible that dinosaur bones were put here to test our faith, as someone argued to Bill Hicks. Then we find ourselves in the same spot Bush is in: we need to believe in something we know is untrue.
Such a feat of believing requires compartmentalization on a grand scale. If there’s any significant amount of knowledge floating around, keeping those compartments separate becomes prohibitively difficult (as Bob Altemeyer’s studies have shown). Thus the bubble surrounding Bush is intended to accomplish the same goal that heads the list of most everyone still living in my old hometown: the avoidance, or more precisely intentionally maintained ignorance, of facts about the world, in particular facts that don’t fit with existing beliefs.
I blame this all on a guy named Paul. Who can honestly argue that belief matters more than action? Wouldn’t that imply that human beings probably numbering in the billions were created without a chance to believe, thus doomed to torment with no path to redemption?