Saturday, April 13, 2002

DISSENTING VOICES
There was an interesting Frank Rich editorial in the Saturday NY Times - The Bush Doctrine, R.I.P. - that addressed a pet peeve of mine, namely the inflexibility of some leaders (in this case GWB) to rethink their views in the face of new information.

Rich wrote If there's a consistent pattern to the administration's arrogance, it's that when the president has an idea of almost any sort on any subject - from the Bush Doctrine on down - it remains fixed in perpetuity, not open to question, even as a world as complex and fast-changing as ours calls out for rethinking.

Never mind that Sept. 11 was the most graphic demonstration imaginable that a missile shield may not be the most useful vessel for our ever more precious defense dollars; it's still full speed ahead. Nor has the bursting of the stock-market bubble dampened Mr. Bush's conviction that Americans should entrust their Social Security savings to his campaign contributors from Wall Street's investment houses. Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, once pitched as a quick fix to the (fleeting) California energy crisis, is now being sold as an antidote to our Middle Eastern woes (because some 10 years from now it may reduce our oil imports by 4 or 5 percent). The Bush tax cut, conceived at a time of endless surpluses and peace, is still touted as the perfect economic plan even now that the surpluses are shot and we are at war. In this administration, one size idea, however slender or dubious, fits all.


I find all this particularly interesting in light of Bush's about face on the Middle East. I wonder if he would care in the slightest about the Middle East if he wasn't trying to get Arab backing for a war with Iraq (a proposition that - regardless how necessary, in light of Saddam's actions - is likely doomed to failure). If nothing else, I guess it shows that even GWB is willing to change is mind if given sufficent bait.

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