Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » November 2004 » Thought for the Day:

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11/04/2004: Thought for the Day:

Soon we will learn what President Bush really thinks about the way things have gone in Iraq. During the campaign, he had to appear optimistic (all is well, we're turning the corner, freedom is on the march …). Karl Rove had counseled him (correctly, it seems) that admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness and that, for instance, firing the advisers who'd given him a falsely rosy picture of "postwar" Iraq would be tantamount to admitting mistakes.

But now Bush has won his final election. He doesn't need to put on a happy face anymore. If he's so inclined, he can shake himself out of permanent campaign mode, furrow his brow, take a serious look at the world that faces him, and do what he thinks he should do, strictly on what he sees as the merits.

The question:
Is he so inclined? And how does he see the world? To state the matter concretely: Will he give the boot to those who gave him such bad advice so glibly? Will he, at a minimum, fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his neocon entourage, most notably Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the undersecretary for policy, Douglas Feith?


So what is the second-term Bush going to do with this troika? If he gets rid of them (i.e., if they resign for reasons of health, business opportunities, or the sudden desire to spend more time with their families), it may be a sign the president really does know that things aren't going well, that his top aides have given him terrible advice, and that he wants to set a different course or at least—to put it in terms that a Harvard Business School grad, like Bush, should understand—hire a more competent executive board.

If the president doesn't show them the door, then we can only conclude that he believes what he's been saying, that his pronouncements on staying the course are not mere campaign slogans, that he truly has shuffled off the coil of a reality-based world.
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 11.04.04 @ 07:46 AM CST

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