David Kirkpatrick

March 21, 2008

Sully and George Bush

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:35 pm

Andrew Sullivan was asked by Slate for a piece about the Iraq war since he was an early supporter, and now a critic. It’s a great read, and is worth the time spent. One part I found particularly interesting was his final section on George W. Bush.

I’m a Texan and lived under his governorship. I’ve never met him, but know many people who have. I ghosted a book for one of George’s friends and business colleagues. By all accounts he’s a good guy, a good friend, and certainly more erudite than he’s given credit for.

And possibly, I’m even more disappointed in his presidency than Sully.

From the link:

Misreading Bush

Yes, the incompetence and arrogance were beyond anything I imagined. In 2000, my support for Bush was not deep. I thought he was an okay, unifying, moderate Republican who would be fine for a time of peace and prosperity. I was concerned – ha! – that Gore would spend too much. I was reassured by the experience and intelligence and pedigree of Cheney and Rumsfeld and Powell. Two of them had already fought and won a war in the Gulf. The bitter election battle hardened my loyalty. And once 9/11 happened, my support intensified as I hoped for the best. His early speeches were magnificent. The Afghanistan invasion was defter than I expected. I got lulled. I wanted him to succeed – too much, in retrospect.

But my biggest misreading was not about competence. Wars are often marked by incompetence. It was a fatal misjudgment of Bush’s sense of morality.

I had no idea he was so complacent – even glib – about the evil that men with good intentions can enable. I truly did not believe that Bush would use 9/11 to tear up the Geneva Conventions. When I first heard of abuses at Gitmo, I dismissed them as enemy propaganda. I certainly never believed that a conservative would embrace torture as the central thrust of an anti-terror strategy, and lie about it, and scapegoat underlings for it, and give us the indelible stain of Bagram and Camp Cropper and Abu Ghraib and all the other secret torture and interrogation sites that he created and oversaw. I certainly never believed that a war I supported for the sake of freedom would actually use as its central weapon the deepest antithesis of freedom – the destruction of human autonomy and dignity and will that is torture. To distort this by shredding the English language, by engaging in newspeak that I had long associated with totalitarian regimes, was a further insult. And for me, an epiphany about what American conservatism had come to mean.