Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Bright Lights, Dim Bulbs
Well, it happened again--I logged onto the Internet to check my address book, and 20 minutes later, I gotta blog, because you gotta read this from Jerry Bowles at Best of the Blogs. One of the key points in Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9/11 commission three weeks ago showed how on taking office, the Bush Administration put in place a national security agenda that was distinctly backward-looking: focusing on missile defense and Iraq even though other, more contemporary threats had replaced them in importance since 1991, the last time this crew was in charge. Jerry observes that these guys (and Condi) were unable to imagine the power of one fanatic in a cave--albeit a cave wired with Internet access, and failed to see how the Internet combined with the global economy had made publicly transparent what used to be the province only of insiders like them. In short, "The world changed profoundly during the 1990s, but the mindset of Bush's senior advisors didn't keep pace." So our "war on terror" is mispackaged as the sequel to World War II. The clash of civilizations that was supposed to be between communism and capitalism gets transposed to a clash between the West and the Arab world. And the whole thing becomes a debacle, because it's the wrong approach politically and historically. You can't fight an idea with tanks and armor.

The real nut, however, comes in the comments to the post, in one from Jerry's fellow contributor Evelyn Keyes, who observes: "Interestingly enough, it's not just the people who put Bush in power who do not understand the forces of the Internet and globalization, but those who have been left behind--red staters and fundamentalists--who are backing this guy. It's as if they are sticking to Bush because of his very inability to grasp the world we live in."

Exactly, exactly, exactly. I wish I'd said that. Part of Bush's appeal to his base--and what enrages so many others--is that dim-bulb view of the world, the idea that everything in life is simple and that acknowledging nuance just leads to unacceptable moral ambiguity. And the equally dim-bulb idea that every problem, no matter what it is, has a simple solution, whether it's "cut taxes" or "bomb Iraq," both of which have been deployed as a sledgehammer solution to a staggering array of stubbornly nuanced problems. Not that every Bush supporter is equally dim, though--many are plenty smart, smart enough to see how the dimness of Bush and his sheeplike base make possible things that would never pass muster if people were really paying attention.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?