Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's The Stupidity, Stupid

There are so many angles from which outrage should flow from Bush's "appeasement" comment in front of the Knesset. Making a cheap Nazi reference in front of the Israeli legislature that is celebrating the founding of the nation which was came about in no small part because of the actual horrors of Nazism is tasteless. Taking a nation's celebration of their 60th anniversary and hijacking it for domestic political shots is rude. Misrepresenting diplomatic engagement for appeasement is dishonest. Overlooking the fact that Bush himself is engaged in exactly this sort of diplomacy with fellow axis of evil leader Kim Jong Il and that the Israelis have a history of diplomatic engagement with their national enemies, not to mention criticizing a fellow American overseas after the Dixie Chicks fiasco, is nothing short of hypocritical.

All of this is disturbing, but what is truly stunning is that here is George W. Bush, the man whose policy of pre-emptive war, whose infantile black-and-white, with us or against us mentality, whose antipathy towards well-established and effective means of diplomacy put not only our country in greater danger, but which has made Israel significantly less safe. This man then stands in front of the government that now has to worry more about the safety of its citizens because of his policy stance and then in his embarrassingly adolescent manner lashes out at one of the adults for suggesting that we need to stop shooting ourselves and Israel in the foot, something everyone in the room knows we have to do. This is nothing short of oblivious.

At an occasion at which it would have been entirely appropriate to give a serious, thoughtful conversation about the state of the region coupled with a sense of what could be and some sophisticated analysis of the way we need to go forward towards a just and secure Middle East, instead we get oratory on the level the last hour of Bill O'Reilly's radio show. That the President thought this to be appropriate for that time and place shows a complete lack of understanding of the job he has held for the last seven years. It is not merely that this comment is a case of doing his job badly, it is the second order flaw, it's the person who screws up and is not even aware of what he is doing to the point where he recognizes that he has screwed up.

There are jerks who act like jerks and know they are acting like jerks and display a sense of arrogance, who put it in your face that they full well know they are being a jerk, know you are upset by their jerk-like behavior, and just don't care. But then there are the ones who act that way with a completely difference sense of arrogance, one that is coupled with the obvious fact that the jerk just doesn't get it. If the President went to Israel and was defiant in his tastelessness, rudeness, dishonesty, and hypocrisy, that would be bad enough. But it is the complete lack of understanding of the brutal stinging irony of his obliviousness that is the most upsetting. To try to insult the intelligence of someone in a way that illustrates your own intellectual flaws, which then reflects on us as a nation is enraging.

Contrary to what you may believe, Mr. Bush, you are not helping. You are not helping John McCain. You are not helping Israel. You are not helping your own legacy. You are helping the terrorist recruiters in the same way you have been for the last six years.

You have made yourself into a cartoon character and you did it in a country where people actually read newspapers, not just the comics; where sophisticated arguments about current events is a standard way of life; where simplistic approaches to terrorism are known to fail; where your own policies have made their lives more dangerous. They know this. They get it. They have no choice. Fortunately, we do. Our days of national shame and embarrassment are mercifully numbered. We simply ask that you stop trying to help. It's not the partisanship. It's not the saber rattling. It's not the immature rhetoric. It's the stupidity, stupid.