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Thinkpost - Dualities

Thanks to the always thoughtful wolfiegirl for presenting an argument that sparked this thinkpost.

The comment she made in her journal that sparked the post:

Why is it that the left can, in one breath, say that George W. is this diabolical evil genius of conspiracy, and in the next, claim that he's the dumbest drooling idiot ever to try to learn to tie his shoes?

The response I posted back:

Hm. So which is it, stupid or evil? I guess it's one or the other, right?

Frankly, It's neither one. It's called being self-centered and uneducated. You certainly don't have to be a brainiac to think the world revolves around you.

Holding one's own interests ahead of everyone else's isn't stupid, it's selfish. However, when you are supposedly representing the citizens of your country, then it becomes something closer to evil. You see how the compass can spin between the two poles here. Let me elaborate.

Ok. I think we can agree The Guy isn't that bright in certain specific areas, and he embarrasses himself more often than any president that has been in office... in my lifetime. But that's just casual amusement, and doesn't have a whole lot to do with anything other than image. In fact, apparently some find his foibles charming and "down to earth."

But then, we can start dealing with his policies and his choices, which can be questionable on certain days, flat out incorrect on others and may appear to be evil on yet others. I think this is where the question of "Stupid" and "Evil" gets mixed.

The man isn't "stupid," at least not in an "across the board" way. He attended Yale (on a legacy), and he has some knowledge, we presume. So, I'm willing to cut some slack on that end of the story.

But the "evil" element is actually a function of not having knowledge. Let me give you an example. If an area of the country is particularly vunerable to flooding and you choose to cut money from the budget to help prevent flood preparation, is that evil directly? Or is it that there was a lack of knowledge of the facts about the situation?

You can see how not being aware of a particular problem (especially when making a decision about it that will affect many people's lives) can be considered "evil," because he should know the consequences before taking any action. It's one of those "goes with the job" issues.

Know what I mean?


But I realized that maybe I didn't go deep enough into the argument, and that maybe I shorthanded the concept a little bit.

If you are the leader of a country, there are certain expectations from the citizens of that country. One of those things I believe would be that you expect to be protected and cared for by your leader. Now, if the leader doesn't protect you, would that be "stupid" or "evil?" I guess it depends, doesn't it?

Could it be both? In a way, yes. Because, when you are sworn in to the office, you affirm that you will execute the duties that office represents. So not having knowledge could be considered stupid, and having a lack of knowledge that has a negative impact on its citizens could be construed as evil, because you, as president, should have known the consequences of your actions before making that choice. Reckless neglect I think might one term for it.

It's sometimes difficult to sort out the "dumb" from the "bad," but that's really what we're dealing with here.

Our President's personality isn't that of a deep thinker... or really, even a shallow thinker. So, that affects people's general opinions of him. He's not a great orator. In a time when you have presidents like Reagan, Clinton, even his father, who can deliver a message when they addressed the public, and sounded confident, or at least competant, and who made their points clearly (whether you agreed with them or not) and exuded confidence in what they had to say, This Guy always sounds like he's reading his homework aloud that was written by his best friend, handed to him just as he was walking to the podium.

That's where the "dumb" come from.

As for the "evil," I suggested that focusing on the people he likes to support is really what's going on here. The Fat Cats and the well to do, the landowners and the oilmen. Guess who got a multi billion (with a B) dollar contract to help rebuild New Orleans? It starts with an "H" and it ends with an "alliburton."

See, this is where we get into a problem. Evil is only evil if it's hurting you. All of the people who are having their boats lifted find everything is fine and dandy. That does nothing for those who are below the flood plane.

So it's not really a question of "stupid" or "evil." It's a question of "President For All" or "President For Certain People." I think the semantics need to be corrected, so that the Right Wingers can't bring up this argument again.

EDIT: Remember when I posted that really weird link to a ragdollesque woman falling through a world of bubbles?

Well, grail76 has pointed out a REVISION that relates to this post, so I had to mention it too.

Yeah, I know. It's STUPID AND EVIL!!

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
ragdoll
Sep. 6th, 2005 07:37 am (UTC)
Actually, fwiw, Bush = stupid and amoral and sadistic the way the school bully is all of the above (and hes quite like that -- he admits to shoving M-80s up frogs asses and blowing them up when he was a kid). He is not an evil genius. He is the sock puppet for would-be evil geniuses like Karl Rove and truly evil geniuses like Dick Cheney.

Not to mention evil + stupid are not mutually exclusive.
penpusher
Sep. 6th, 2005 07:54 am (UTC)
That's all a welcome response, Raga. I was just trying to be as fair as I possibly could, probably more fair than he and his supporters would be, had we reversed the situation.

But I think the point was that she was equating being an "evil mastermind" with what people were commenting, and so that is the focus there.

I agree that you can be evil and stupid. In fact, the point is that if you are stupid, it's a whole lot easier to be seen as evil. Smart people can cover it up more seamlessly, or so I expect.
sparkle_shortz
Sep. 6th, 2005 04:55 pm (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree. Hunter S. Thompson had a great (as in chilling and revolting) article in Rolling Stone around election time last year about Bush's school bully-ish ways persisting well into his Yale days.

And if staging photo ops of disaster relief without providing the actual ongoing relief after the cameras are off isn't evil, I don't know what, short of first degree premeditated murder, qualifies.

My personal pop-psych analysis is that a combination of inborn entitlement and the f'ed up values of his family and cocaine abuse in his youth has left him with some kind of dissociative disorder to the point where he is kind of unable to feel empathy for other human beings.
ragdoll
Sep. 6th, 2005 05:06 pm (UTC)
So is going off to eat cake with John McCain and attending Little League games and doing everything else he was doing BEFORE he bothered to show up down in the disaster areas (along with the staged relief which is just unbelievable...)

Speaking of his family, Daddy Bush says his boy is doing a great job and Mommy Bush is whining that people are picking on him. At 50-something and as President of the United States (laughably), you'd think he could fight his own battles.
sparkle_shortz
Sep. 6th, 2005 05:10 pm (UTC)
Mommy Bush also apparently thinks that "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them." (comments to NPR's Marketplace after touring the Astrodome)

So clearly his worldview comes from somewhere.
ragdoll
Sep. 6th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's definitely Mommy who is not the nice old grandmotherly type some people seem to think (not me, I always knew she was a bitch and a half).

According to the news, George is now going to launch an investigation (headed by Dick Cheney!) to find out what went wrong with this. Gee, I dunno, maybe sitting around on your ass for 3 days prior and god knows how many days post Hurricane doing fuck-all?
twopiearr
Sep. 6th, 2005 02:50 pm (UTC)
The interesting thing is that a lot of what is perceived by the left as "evil" to me doesn't seem like it's the work of one person.

Iraq is a perfect example. Whatever happened to the intelligence reports that lead up to 9/11 happening, there's no question that at least one person in the administration was keeping intelligence from the President, and that at least one person present the intelligence to that person was interpreting it in a way that encouraged inactivity. Once the military was mobilized, there were a number of people involved in the decisions of how many to send, where to send them, what equipment to give them and not to give them, how they should be deployed, etc. Still other people were involved in controlling what information was given to the public about what was happening there. And this same chain of people continued to make this same chain of decisions when we moved over to Iraq.

As the person at the top of all these various chains, Dubyah has some inarugable responsibility for these decisions - if for no other reason than that he put many of those decision makers into their positions to begin with - but he didn't make a whole lot of em.

So this, I think, is at least part of the dumb/evil dichotomy - Bush is perceived as a dumb person heading up a bunch of evil decision makers.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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