Last weekend one of the talking heads on a popular TV talk show announced, “we underestimate Bush’s intelligence.” I heard this and got to wondering if this was an oxymoron or not. The word oxymoron is defined in the dictionary as contradiction. Is Bush’s actions and behavior a contradiction of this quality of intelligence that is being ascribed to him? I went back in my mind to some of the things said by, said of, and done by George Bush to see if we are really underestimating the man’s intelligence, or if we have a glaring oxymoron on our hands. You will be left to decide. First things first.
As the dust settles in an election less than a week ago, and the Democrats are reeling from a massive loss, Bush is being given accolades for being smart and being a good strategist for stumping in the crucial election races to put his people over the top, resulting in a resounding victory. From where I sit the Democrats lost to themselves. And I mean long before the wake for Senator Paul Wellstone. They lost when Gephardt groveled at Bush feet after endorsing the resolution authorizing him to attack Iraq, while at the same time his fellow Democrat and respected elder statesman Senator Robert Byrd was imploring his colleagues against supporting it. They lost when they refrained from attacking Bush on the sinking American economy and the loss of confidence in the U.S. stock market with the fall of Enron, WorldCom, etc., etc., and his involvement in such events. They lost when they stood idly by as one of their most vibrant and lucid colleagues, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia was attacked and robbed of her seat in the primaries. So, in all honesty, can we truly label this event a case of smarts or intelligence on Bush’s part? You decide.
A few weeks ago, while using public transportation I overheard two young men talking. Well, actually I did not overhear. They were talking so loud that I could not help hearing. One was African American and the other Hispanic. The Hispanic asks his buddy if he supports, and is pleased with how Bush is handling things. The African American response was, “Are you kidding? George Bush is nothing more than the village idiot. All he and his Republicans are good for is giving the military a big raise and ruining the economy.” I began wondering if people like this young man were consulted in national polls that report Bush’s overwhelming support among Americans. I think not. It is people like this youth and those in his community, black and young, who refrained from voting, ensuring the Democrats demise. In this case are we ascribing Bush’s intelligence to disillusioned voters?
To effect the war in Afghanistan, Bush and his Administration became cozy with Pakistan. This meant Bush, the leader of the world’s greatest democracy, embracing Pervez Musharaff, the leader of that country. The man came to power in a coup, and is a military dictator who has never allowed elections. Was this relationship a good thing? Ask India. The result of this coziness meant Musharaff asked for what he wanted and got it. Mainly money and military hardware. This no doubt alarmed New Delhi, the capital of the world’s largest democracy. The upshot was that India and Pakistan came to the point of a dangerous nuclear exchange. There was a lot of shuttle diplomacy with Rumsfeld, and various international officials rushing to the region to restore calm. Did the American strategist and leaders, including Bush, not realize that this crisis was bound to happen with such behavior towards Pakistan? Was this a display of intelligence?
Some time ago Bush announced that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea constituted the axis of evil. He further stated that these nations were “run by unelected leaders.” This created an uproar among friends and enemies abroad. South Korea was alarmed. It had made a lot of headway in dealing with its neighbor North Korea, and felt that Bush was bungling things. They demanded an explanation. North Korea retorted that Bush was a buffoon who knew nothing of the world. One retort from abroad was that Bush himself was unelected, but court appointed. I remember wondering about the wisdom of Bush accusation of unelected leaders, while he was like two peas in a pod with Pakistan’s Pervez Musharaff, an unelected military leader. Was this a display of intelligence on Bush’s part?
Right after September 11 Bush urged America to go about its business as usual and to “take trips” and “buy stocks.” Those were his words. I was puzzled by this strange advice. Shortly thereafter the American stock market tumbled as Enron, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom, Global Crossing etc., etc., disintegrated. Now George Bush has a masters degree in accounting. What am I to make of someone, a specialist in the field of finances, advising on the value of stock purchases, only to see the stock market evaporate within weeks of his advice. When asked about the market dive and Enron, Bush countered, “I too have been affected by the stock market plunge because my mother-in-law lost money.” What? What does this detrimental advice by Bush say about his intelligence?
Remember that prior to September 11, many leading analysts and critics here in America thought Bush was inept, underexposed, and an embarrassment to the presidency. They said so regularly. Abroad, the Europeans, including the British, couldn”t wait for him to cross the pond to attack him on issues ranging from trade to his penchant for the death penalty. They did not think much of his smarts and ability. Has Bush proven all of his detractors wrong, or is it an oxymoron to use the name George W. Bush and intelligence in the same sentence? You decide.
BEN ROBERTS is a newsletter editor and freelance writer. He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org