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How do I dislike Bush? Let me count the ways:

  1. Dubya is lazy.
  2. He lacks moral and philosophic development.
  3. Bush is not intelligent so he must rely on advisors.
    1. The advisors might lack intelligence.
    2. They might not be the best experts.
    3. Their recommendations may be flawed.
    4. Some of his advisors are grinding axes.
    5. His experts may disagree with each other.
      1. Dubya can't become an expert.
      2. Bush can't judge the experts.
      3. He probably won't be patient.
      4. I don't trust Dubya's wild guesses.
      5. Dubya is a divider, not a uniter.
      6. He will ultimately take the advice of the guy he trusts regardless of expertise.
    6. Bush may ignore the advisors.
  4. He is poorly educated.
    1. Poorly prepared before Andover.
    2. Money got him into Andover.
    3. Nepotism got him into Yale.
    4. He was irresponsible in his military service.
    5. His poor academic record prevented him from getting into the University of Texas Law School.
    6. Money and family connections got him into the Harvard Business School.
  5. Bush is a shallow hypocrite.
    1. He does bad things because he is a bad person.
    2. A man of principle does not compromise with alleged evil.
    3. Dubya wants his mistakes (and probable lies) to be ignored.
  6. Dubya is greedy.
  7. I don't like hereditary aristocrats.
  8. He has too many dangerous secrets.
  9. I hate the way he talks.
  10. He is a jinx.
  11. Dubya lies a LOT.
  12. I don't appreciate negative motivation.
  1. Hard work is good. I don't know for sure that Dubya has never really worked a day in his life, but I do know he's never had to. On the day he was born, he was already richer than probably 99% of the Americans he now reigns over. This is not intended in any religious Puritan sense, either as proof of merit or as evidence of redemption. Nor I am I defending redemption by works, though I do believe our work is important for the present and for the future. However, even as resident of the White House, Dubya has just continued his natural slacking ways. He certainly didn't campaign as a slacker. I basically regard him as a lazy bum.

  2. Moral/philosophic development is good. Actually closely related to the first 'way', but mostly because I firmly believe that too much money is a handicap in the development of personal morality and a personal philosophy. There is no evidence that Dubya has overcome that handicap. You learn about important moral issues by considering them carefully and by making difficult choices about them. Having lots of money simply short circuits much of this learning process. Yes, it is possible to learn by hypothetical analysis, such as "What would I do if I didn't have the money to solve this problem so easily?" but there is no evidence that Dubya possesses such abstract analytic skills.

  3. Intelligence is a useful tool. This is not intended as any kind of moral condemnation, but just a statement of the basic fact that the world is big and complicated, and intelligence is important for dealing with those complications. Actually, there are plenty of very nice people who aren't especially bright and most people are just pretty average.

    It is very clear that Bush is not unusually bright, and even his strongest supporters admit that. This is supposed to be okay because he'll surround himself with very smart people who are experts in various fields and then do as they say. Except for:
    1. What if they aren't so smart? Dubya can't tell.
    2. What if they don't know their field or have important gaps in their knowledge? Again, Bush can't tell.
    3. What if they make clever analytic recommendations based on unjustified premises outside of their knowledge domains? Still a mystery to George.
    4. What if they have personal motivations that are coloring their recommendations or even clouding their judgment? This is one that might be within Bush's ability to handle, but only externally with personal background checks. As already noted, Dubya can't assess their expertise directly. He actually has a staff of people who are apparently supposed to be checking this kind of stuff, at least for the people who faced (or will face) confirmation hearings. But it's also clear that he doesn't seem to care—as long as their biases seem to agree with his.
    5. What if the experts disagree? This is actually the biggest problem because complicated and controversial situations are often going to create many possible interpretations and possible actions. So how will Dubya 'arbitrate' in those cases?
      1. Study the problem until he understands it? Extremely unlikely. Complicated issues are apparently beyond his ken even if time was available for such study. Plus the available evidence says Bush isn't even interested—he often ignores even the pithiest of briefing papers.
      2. Study the experts themselves to judge their relative qualifications? I think this one is fundamentally impossible without having comparable expertise.
      3. Ignore the problem and hope it goes away? Not a joke, and actually this is often the best thing to do—but not likely, since Bush wants to prove himself. Rather than risk looking indecisive, he'll jump to some decision. My own belief is that when someone REALLY understands a problem, the best course of action (or inaction) may well become obvious. And conversely, when you are unsure what to do, most often the best thing to do is exactly nothing.
      4. Make a wild guess? Very easy, but also very dangerous. Very little evidence that Bush is any kind of gestalt thinker or has good hunches.
      5. Build a consensus among the experts? Possible, but Dubya won't have much basis to do so since he doesn't know what's going on. Much more likely that a clever office politician will create the appearance of consensus by working behind the scenes. And being recognized (by Dubya) as a consensus-builder will also strengthen his concealed hand for playing the next card...
      6. Go with the guy he trusts most? This is probably how it will actually work most of the time, but the only expertise it actually requires is expertise in gaining George's trust.
    6. What if Bush thinks he's smart in that particular area and decides to ignore his experts? Does Dubya really know his own mental limitations? I strongly suspect he's a Class Four fool who doesn't even know what he doesn't know. Too much money does that to some people.

    Basically this rely-on-advisor thing is an argument in favor of non-accountability, which seems to be the main lesson the GOP learned from the debacle that was Nixon. If the president doesn't understand what is going on, he can't be held accountable, right? So if any fool can do the job, why don't we just have a lottery and pick the president at random?

    Obviously, this topic mostly reminds me of the Reagan days, and it is true that Reagan rarely slipped his leash. Yes, he made lots of embarrassing gaffes, but it is hard to point at any big mistake (except for Star Wars) or crime and say that Reagan was the guy who did it, even though he was morally and legally responsible for all of them.

    This intelligence topic also reminds me of Dan Quayle, who I still regard as a dangerous fool—but a fool who was only a heartbeat away from the presidency for four years. At this point I can even wonder if that was a deliberate plot—daddy's little plan to make Dubya look like a plausible candidate for high office.

  4. Education is good. Dubya's supporters like to point at his degrees from prestigious schools—but they are also eager to ignore his actual grades. The joke form is that Bush is one of those guys who makes the top 90% of the class possible.

    The actual situation is that educational qualifications and certifications are supposed to be based on intellectual merit and accomplishments, but that mostly hasn't applied to Bush. In sequence:
    1. Only thing I've heard about his primary education is that Dubya admits he was poorly prepared when he arrived at Andover.
    2. Andover. A college prep school (private high school) for the rich. Basic requirement for admission is money and the family has plenty of that. I'm sure the well-paid teachers of Andover did what they could, but failure is NOT a paying proposition there. Ergo, Dubya graduated (though he admits he was worried about making it through).
    3. Yale. Bush got in under nepotistic admission rules just as they changed to merit-based admissions. The results? His father and all of his father's brothers went to Yale, but none of his younger brothers were accepted. From most accounts it appears Jeb is the smartest of Dubya's siblings—but not a Yale man. At Yale Bush survived long enough to graduate, but good schools feel they have an obligation to help their students succeed (and graduate) regardless of how they got in. He actually got booed for a recent speech when he told the now-hardworking Yale students that they are wasting their efforts—unless maybe they can get adopted by his dad.
    4. Military service. I am including this under education because I regard my own military service as a very important part of my education. Rather unpleasant, too, but at least I did my duty and fulfilled my commitment. Perhaps it should be under moral development, or even a separate category for actual cowardice. However, much of this has to be speculative because—unlike normal public figures—Dubya won't release his military records to the public. Therefore I'm keeping it under education since it is obvious he didn't learn much. The details? Because of his age, Bush was a prime candidate to be drafted and sent to Vietnam. He was not the only fellow who wanted to avoid that, and one of the favored escape routes was to join a national guard unit, and therefore in those days it became quite difficult to get in. Dubya not only got in, but was accepted as a pilot in spite of having the lowest possible qualifying score. He then blew off the last year or so of his obligation. After the Vietnam danger ended it was just too inconvenient? Or he can always dismiss it as 'young and irresponsible' behavior. However, I earned my honorable discharge, and though my military record is less than perfect, I have no reason to hide it. I surely learned a lot from the rather unpleasant experience. Obviously, this one is personally very annoying to me—and maybe a few other veterans, too.
    5. University of Texas Law School. Bush applied but was turned down. Flat. Academic merit required. Silly of him to even ask, but perhaps Dubya's only authentic encounter with normal academia.
    6. Harvard Business School. Family-influence-based admission policies got him in, and again, he managed to survive long enough to graduate, though it apparently took him seven years of effort. I think the norm for an MBA is two. (This is based on his official public resume which basically shows nothing for the years after Yale. Is it more generous to guess he was at Harvard during those years? 'Real' resumes aren't supposed to skip such large blocks of time.) I haven't heard any favorable reports of his Harvard days. One of his classmates called him the class clown, and one of his professors reportedly said he was then and remains now a "spoiled brat." Presumably he was using his MBA skills when he tanked several real companies before he switched to baseball. (Well, actually without examining the books, it is an exaggeration to say he tanked them, but they were clearly unsuccessful in relation to the competing companies. Evidence suggests he was gracefully bought out due to family influence, or possibly even as speculation on future political influence.)

  5. Integrity is good. This is the one that really makes me laugh. Or maybe I should cry, hearing people try to hang such a label on Dubya? Anyway, based on simple logical analysis of statements and events in the public record, Bush must be a liar, a hypocrite, a fool, or some combination thereof. It is possible that he is a fool with integrity, but I doubt even that because I think real integrity would avoid creating even the appearance of lies or hypocrisy. Of course liars and hypocrites cannot be men of integrity. (This only applies to the actor's own actions—Dubya's actions in this case. Of course it is possible for false accusations to create negative appearances. That seems to be the campaign norm these years.)

    The Bush supporters who will face the realities of his words and actions defend them in three ways:
    1. Bush wasn't such a nice guy, but he's turned over a new leaf (and we should ignore recent naughties). This is the 'young and irresponsible' defense. Wouldn't work in court, though Bush likes it. Just a child into his 30s and beyond? Maybe, but we can't see his heart, and I don't think the old leopard can change his spots so easily. I think what actually happened was Dubya finally hired some image managers who managed to convince him he had to quit doing those things in public, especially the drinking. It's possible that he's really given up the booze, though you can't prove a negative, but even without the alcohol and other drugs, Dubya had (and obviously still has) plenty of non-chemical personality flaws. But maybe it's enough even if he's only pretending?
    2. Dubya is just making pragmatic compromises to get things done, or even to unite on shared goals with his opponents.
    3. It (referring to the latest lie or hypocrisy) was just a mistake. Bush makes a lot of mistakes, and then the spin doctors start doing their stuff.

    For all of these defenses, the hypocrisy is pretty overwhelming. For the first one, Bush strongly supports holding OTHER people responsible for their bad behavior, even down to age 14 in a law he supported as governor of Texas. Bush is supposed to have publicly repented for his sins, but without actually admitting to anything besides one DWI, and then only after the evidence came out in public. Am I the only person who feels sincere penitence requires confessing what you're penitent for? Anyway, other people who repented their sins and turned over new leafs received no visible mercy from his 'compassionate conservatism'—he even holds the record for executions under the responsibility of a single governor. I only know of one case where Dubya actually recommended clemency (resulting in a life sentence)—for Henry Lee Lucas, a brutal mass murderer extremely deserving of the death penalty if anyone is. I've often wondered why he chose to spare Lucas, but in about 150 other cases he did nothing. Near as I can see, the just handling of the Lucas case would have been to try him for other murders, even if Bush had doubts about that particular one. Lucas may have killed 600 people over the years.

    The last two (5.b-c) both fall under spin doctoring, but the soul of the hypocrisy is that the Bushies feel its okay for them to do these things, but terribly wrong if some non-Republican guy does them. Remember ol' Jimmy Carter? Now THERE is a man of genuine integrity and sincerity. (Actually, I'd rate Ford second among recent presidents, but not a real close second.)

  6. Avoiding conflicts of interest is good. This is obviously related to the question of integrity, but deserves separate mention. The glowing example here is Dubya's tax cuts. These cuts are most effective in giving money to him and his very rich friends, and if that is not a conflict of interest, I'd be curious to know what qualifies. The elimination of inheritance taxes is especially interesting, and will be worth a lot of money to Dubya himself in the fairly near future—his father is quite old and quite wealthy. I suppose a man of integrity would donate any personal gains to charity, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for Bush do it, even though it wouldn't personally injure him—he'd still have millions of dollars left from his previous exploitations of his family connections.

    This is not limited to Dubya himself, but also to his supporters, very many of whom are clearly most concerned with their private interests rather than the public's interests—even when they hold public office. I think Katherine Harris and her strongly partisan handling of her public responsibilities is probably one of the ugliest examples. As co-campaign chair for Bush she certainly should have recused herself from involvement in the post-election controversy. Cheney's involvement with oil companies as he helps decide energy policies is dubious, but it goes on and on.

    From the larger historical perspective, it is just the very old tradition of the GOP as the party of big business. The new wrinkle is that they now accuse the Democratic Party of having become the party of big business. The GOP even spent years and millions of dollars trying to prove illegal personal profiteering with regards to Clinton and Gore. And failed. But they still made the unfounded accusations one of the keys of their campaign in 2000. Fascinating.

  7. Democracy is good. Not just a matter of political parties. Bush is fundamentally an aristocrat from a very aristocratic family. It's also very hypocritical for him to pretend otherwise—though he certainly tries to for certain constituencies. (Other constituencies WANT an aristocrat, so he drops the pretense for them.) There's some confusion among Republicans between aristocracy and meritocracy, though it is clear that Bush himself cannot claim any special merit besides the accident of his aristocratic birth.

    Of course the proof of the pudding on this one is how he became resident of the White House in the first place. Lots of lesser proof of his anti-democratic kernel in such areas as his ideologically motivated appointments to various government offices. He has no electoral nor popular mandate for sweeping change, but that doesn't seem to be slowing him up [at least until he punted control of the Senate to the Democrats]. Rather he is a little man in a big hurry, knowing the next free election will probably go very badly for his party.

    Kind of a footnote, but I think Dubya actually goes farther than that. I recently discovered that both his father and his role model Reagan accepted knighthoods from Queen Elizabeth. That's "Sir Bush" to us peasants. Doesn't seem to jibe very well with the Constitution. We'd just thrown the royals out, and the Constitution mentions royal titles only in a very negative way. Me, I just don't like royalty.

  8. Free and open communication is good. Very tightly related to the previous item, but worth mentioning on its own. The basic premise of democracy (and modern science) is that all the ideas are supposed to be expressed openly and freely and they do battle with each other, and ultimately the best ideas win out. In politics, that's supposed to extend to the politician who most strongly believes in and supports the best ideas, though in reality we usually get the political charades game.

    As this applies to Dubya, it doesn't. He is very secretive, and apparently with good reason. Lots of things he just doesn't want to talk about. You can start from youthful indiscretions and just keep going, though most of the things he doesn't want to talk about now are things that he at least ought to know something about in order to earn that government money he keeps taking every month.

    However, in Dubya's case there is a special danger that worries me. His secrecy may be a severe weakness, actually exposing him to blackmail. He starts with plenty to hide, but that isn't the big danger. The big danger is the threat of creeping leverage. A smart blackmailer would do things cleverly, for example asking for a few apparently harmless favors, etc. But the goal of the smart blackmailer would be to escalate the threat, to gain more leverage over the victim. For example, the harmless favors might turn out to be not so harmless, and suddenly Dubya might have even more things that he doesn't want to talk about... And in a battle of wits between Dubya and a cunning and evil person... Well... "The battle is not always to the strong, nor the race to the swift, but that's the way to bet." I suppose we just have to hope that Bush has been so lucky that he has never met such a person. But I keep thinking of all those lawyers... The old joke here is "The 99% of the lawyers that give the rest of them such a bad reputation." But if Dubya has fallen into such clutches, the constant spotlight is very likely to expose it (though it probably won't have any more long-term effect than Nixon's exposure).

  9. English is a beautiful language—but not when Dubya misuses it. Okay, so it isn't really fair to pick on his speech impediments, but I really wish he could get a better teleprompter. Or maybe it's the guy who's feeding him his lines on the teleprompter. But whatever the reason, it really is annoying to listen to him trying to get through a 20-second sound byte. There is also his tendency to sloppily make up new words that sort of come close to actual English words. Or maybe his speaking problems are just more intellectual laziness, or maybe he just cares so little about the people he's talking to that he can't be bothered. However, the truth is that I'm mostly including this one for the sake of all those Clinton-bashers who had to say how personally humiliated they felt by his antics. As an American, knowing that Dubya is one of the most recorded and listened to Americans, it really makes me feel ashamed when he abuses my mother tongue in public. Which is pretty much every time he opens his mouth.

  10. Dubya is obviously jinxed, or more likely cursed. Win-win is apparently not in Dubya's dictionary. Most of his life he was just a big loser, but when he wins, somewhere close by there are big losers. His only financial success was receiving the equivalent of $15 million dollars for his help with the Ranger's new stadium, but the citizens actually paid for that deal and then they lost another $7.5 million in the lawsuit afterwards. Here's a summary of his first year in the national limelight:
    1. Most controversial election in 100+ years (though the voters' actual will was clearly against Dubya)
    2. Worst and most alegal US Supreme Court decision ever (trumping #1)
    3. US submarine sinks Ehime Maru, a Japanese fishing boat (amazingly unlikely)
    4. A spy plane goes to China
    5. Code Red computer worm (possibly Chinese revenge for #4)
    6. Senate switches to Democrats (at least Dubya thinks it's a terrible harm)
    7. Microsoft was unpunished for hurting consumers
    8. World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks of September 11th
    9. War in Afghanistan
    10. Anthrax attacks
    11. Economic disaster (under construction)
    Dubya was involved in all of these, either as the cause or with responsibility to prevent them. All of the lost international treaties don't actually count as jinxes, because those were deliberate actions, not accidents. Those were deliberate efforts to negate years of international negotiations. The Bushies just weren't planning on suddenly wanting international help so soon (for the international 9/11 response).

    Of course the biggest curse was the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For Dubya, they led to a big popularity win—at the expense of about 3,000 people killed by terrorists, when it was HIS job to prevent terrorist attacks. To say Dubya is jinxed is to be optimistic. Looking over that list, you have to wonder if there is a big guy upstairs. A very unhappy big guy.
  11. Dubya lies a LOT. Adding this topic was actually a specific reaction to a really obvious lie he told the German leaders during a trip to Europe. Can't see how that's going to help international cooperation... Not sure where to begin on this big topic, and hindered by my strong emotional reaction to liars. Never liked 'em, never will. Not that I think any politician can be a paragon of perfect honesty. Basically impossible to please all of the people all of the time, but every successful politician has to make some attempt to give that appearance. But there's a scale there, and Dubya is at the extreme end with the biggest and most frequent lies. It's hard to think of an area where he doesn't lie. He lies extremely vigorously about his own ideology, but especially during the campaign. He lies about facts and figures and then dismisses it as 'charming' anti-intellectualism. He routinely lies about what he knows and when he knew it, and is actively trying to conceal all records that could hold him accountable. He lies about his business experiences and actions. Seems impossible not to conclude that he's a pathological liar with a dangerous fantasy that he can even control what history will say about him. Won't work.

    Whoops, almost forgot to say what was the obvious lie mentioned above. He told the Germans that he had no Iraqi war plans on his desk. Even in normal times there are contingency war plans for such known troublemakers as Saddam, but at this particular time it is very obvious that there are very serious preparations under way, and he shouldn't be lying about them. Perhaps he just plays word games? The plans were locked in the safe, not on his desk? Or they have some other title than "war plans" clearly printed at the top of each page?
  12. Negative motivation is bad. I suppose I could say that it's a good thing to be motivated to activity—and Dubya has obviously been quite motivating. MUCH more so than Clinton or Quayle or even Reagan. And I'm not the only one. Yes, even negative activity is a kind of learning experience, but negative motivations are fundamentally negative. Call me ungrateful, but I don't appreciate it and would prefer to be motivated to spend my time in more constructive ways. Thanks, but no thanks to King George II.

Production Notes: The major "jinx" entry was added was added after the 9/11 attacks, and though some of the other items could use updating, I'm letting them stand, except for fixing "jibe" per some email feedback. 29 September 2001 (jinx part updated again on 3 November)

Time for the conclusion. During the election I was basically bemused that the GOP couldn't come up with a better candidate, and I was somewhat surprised that the political machinery worked in a way that it somehow gave Dubya credibility as a candidate for high office. I think almost all rational people agreed that there were very large differences between the two candidates, and I thought it fascinating that somehow all of these differences were cancelling out, and I even wrote an extended commentary on the political deadlock in American politics. However, I no longer regard Dubya as a peculiar joke, but rather I've come to see him as an archetype. He is truly an odious little man.

Do I actually hate him? I don't think so, though I do very strongly dislike some of the things Dubya stands for. Basically, in spite of his archetype status, he doesn't seem to be 'big enough' to be the target of hate. Some of Dubya's strongest supporters are extremely hateful people, but still... Disrespect? Most definitely. I can only think of a single item that might be worth some respect, and I don't know for sure about that. Did Bush really stop drinking of his own free will? Or was he forced to stop and it's just another one of his secrets? Or maybe Dubya still drinks in private? Many former alcoholics say he's just 'in denial', by which they apparently mean they believe he can't really address or solve his alcohol problems without even admitting that they exist. But who's to say he hasn't admitted to them in secret?

But hate Dubya? I don't really think so, in spite of the fact that he and his supporters seem to have more than their share of hate for other people and things. And I certainly regard them as dangerous and potentially harmful.

By the way, this page is obviously dedicated to the authors of all those negative pages that, lacking anything positive to say about Dubya, focus on saying negative things about other people. Mostly that means criticizing Clinton, but Gore, too. However, I can't really blame them for not wanting to think too deeply about Dubya.

As far as criticizing Clinton at this late date, regardless of his real flaws, I regard it as a kind of safe bullying. Clinton is history, and he knows it. His work is finished, there is no higher office to go to from here, he is retired. He is no longer in a position to seriously play the political games or even to defend himself, which is apparently why the Bush supporters have seemingly become even more fond of criticizing him. Bullies are like that, but now the only real judgment will be history's, and you can't rush that one. None of us will live to see it.

As far as criticizing Gore, all of the attacks that I've investigated so far have turned out to qualify as vile calumny. Much of it was in the press in the form of vicious attacks in the headlines followed a few days later by tiny retractions buried in errata boxes, usually explaining that Gore had been misquoted again. However, the press publishes what sells, and I guess that's what people want to pay for—but perhaps that's why I almost never buy a newspaper or news magazine. I do not want to pay for slanted spin that claims to be impartial news. Perhaps strong control of the media is another GOP lesson learned from Nixon's demise? Ironically, a lot of the calumny was broadcast via the Internet that Gore worked so hard to support during its critical early years. But the most ironic part is that 'I read it on the Internet' has become synonymous with 'truth value completely unknown'.