August 07, 2005

"Brain Blinks"

Jonathan Chait, in the LA Times, writes about the way George Bush thinks, in a piece entitled How Bush thinks: intuition over intellect. In Bush's case, I believe the word intuition, which I usually interpret as a rather positive attribute, doesn't serve him well, and, in his case, actually ends up being bad judgement or knee-jerk reaction.

Chait uses Bush's recent statement about the baseball player Rafael Palmiero as an indicator of Bush's "intuition" -- namely, how Bush, in spite of strong evidence to the contrary, will stick with Palmiero's denial of steroid use in a sort of stubborn consistency which, on its own, projects Bush's brand of cowboy independence and manly loyalty that transcends truth. It's akin to Bush's habit of quickly coming up with pet names for people around him, like "Turd Blossom" for Karl Rove. It's Bush's kind of intuitive quick study that he has practiced almost all his life.

Chait also talks about Bush's quick fix on President Putin of Russia, and his persistent allegiance to him through thick and thin. Irrespective of Putin's smothering of democracy, Bush is his eternal pal. And, according to Chait, it's based largely on Bush first encounter with Putin, when he learned that, like Bush's mom, Putin's mother also gave him a cross when he was young. It also tells you something of the centrality of Bush's Christianity when he considers his reactions to people. He and Rafael Palmiero have prayed together, no doubt.

Bob Burnett wrote about Bush's thought process and called it "brain blinks." He explores Bush's "thinking" on the National Missile Defense (NMD) system:

A classic example of the Bush decision-making process can be seen in his advocacy of the National Missile Defense (NMD) system. On February 15th a NMD test aborted when an interceptor missile failed to get out of its silo, the latest in a series of debacles that stretch back to the inception of the program. (The technical challenge of quickly discriminating between multiple potential targets has proved beyond the capability of modern technology; there have been no successful tests conducted under realistic conditions.) Despite this woeful track record, the Bush Administration continues to move forward with a multi-billion-dollar deployment of a system that doesn't work now and, most likely, will never meet its objectives.
Bush "logic" propels NMD's deployment. A dissection of the President's rationale reveals a pattern, the same process involved in actions such as the war in Iraq or the "reform" of Social Security. The typical Bush decision is one-third pragmatism, another third obstinacy, and a final third "blink." The pragmatic part stems from the political reality that continuing to build NMD is good for major Republican aerospace donors, such as Raytheon and TRW. Similarly, the war in Iraq may be bad for America, but it is good for Halliburton. NMD is a neo-conservative article of faith, and Bush and his advisers are true believers. Despite dramatic evidence to the contrary, they stubbornly hold on to the major Neo-con tenets, such as: Star Wars will make us safe; Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction; cutting taxes is good for everyone; and war is peace. The final ingredient in the Bush rationale is "blink," seat-of-the-pants reasoning. Malcolm Gladwell argues that instantaneous decisions are best formed out of years of experience. In other words, it's okay to reach quick decisions, but there should be an underlying "seasoned" process. The problem with most of Bush's "blink" decisions is that there is no evidence of this foundation. What we see, instead, are snap decisions wrapped in authoritarian rigidity. Once Bush locks onto a solution to a problem, he won't consider any other alternatives. For example, while North Korea has nuclear weapons and a missile-delivery system, the Bush Administration assumes that NMD will protect the American mainland and, therefore, remains closed to all but military solutions to solve the danger of the rogue nation. The US refuses to participate in real diplomacy.

Is it good for my donors, is it an idea put forward by the good guys, and do I think it's a neat idea? Three compelling reasons in Bush's thinking about issues. And through all of his decision-making processes, whether it's finding more ways to reward Halliburton, or cutting the taxes of the rich, or taking away veteran's benefits, or sending American men and women to their deaths, George Bush sleeps well every night.


Here's one of George Bush's latest declarations on an issue (in this case, reacting to the warning from Al-Zawahiri, the al-Queda number two man) demonstrating Bush's stubborn attachment to his undying contention that al-Queda and Iraq have been linked, all along, since before 9/11:

The comments by the number two man of al Qaeda make it clear that Iraq is a part of this war on terror, and we're at war. In other words, he's saying, leave. As I have told the American people, one, that people like Zawahiri have an ideology that is dark, dim, backwards. They don't trust -- they don't appreciate women. If you don't agree to their narrow view of a religion you'll be whipped in the public square. That's their view, and they have tactics to help spread that view. In other words, they've got goals. They want to spread that point of view throughout the world, starting in the broader Middle East. And part of their goal is to drive us out of the broader Middle East, precisely what Zawahiri said. In other words, he's threatening. Crawford, Texas, August 4, 2005

Bush's statement that "they don't appreciate women" is classic Bush thinking, his "intuition" at work. Only real men (unlike gays, and abortionists, and tree-huggers, and Volvo-drivers, and Democrats, and terrorists, and any man who opposes the war in Iraq, and well, you know who they all are) really like women.

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