Thursday, June 21, 2007
In a post yesterday Glenn Greenwald tried to combat the reductionist impulse that sweepingly dismisses George W. Bush simply a corporate tool or simply Evil -- thereby avoiding any attempt at nuanced understanding of the social circumstances that enabled the conservative coup of which Bush is the visible manifestation.
What interested me even more was the question posed by the title of Greenwald's post: What "truly motivates" George W. Bush? The amount of angst that many have been willing to devote to thinking about that question bespeaks a charming innocence. It seems that many of us are honestly stunned that a president could so glaringly depart from what we thought were the country's shared values: honesty in government; the rule of law, not men; government responsibility to step in when localities cannot do it all; some measure of fairness and justice.
It is easy to say that these are all idealistic fantasies -- that belief in their reality is a symptom of comfortable self-deception among the relatively privileged. And that would be true in much of the country's history -- particularly in our treatment of the poor and of various people of color. But those "quaint" values also express some of the best of the country's potential.
So I think it is also a symptom of social health that people keep asking that bewildered question: "what 'truly motivates' George W. Bush?"