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E.L. Doctorow On George Bush
"The Unfeeling President," Doctorow calls Bush.

I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.

He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.

They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life . . . they come to his desk as a political liability, which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.

How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that, rather than controlling terrorism, his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice.

He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

Yet this president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing -- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends.

(via Metafilter)

Posted by aalkon at September 28, 2004 12:31 AM

Comments

Why is the left obsessed with interior lives? Is it because of Oprah? Sure, novelists and Hollywood ninnies make their living in that realm, but that doesn't mean we have to admire their sensitivities as superior to our own.

> But you study him, you look into his
> eye...

It's all these people are capable of... Jelly-wobbling, tear-streaked emotional whispers in the candlelight of psychotherapy. Measuring on the basis of history, facts and aspirations is just too much work.

> So he never mourns for the dead and
> crippled youngsters who have fought
> this war of his choice.

Sez you. The first reason grownups should not be obsessed with interiors is that we can't see them. Kaus wrote last year that W actually spends a lot of time visiting the maimed at Walter Reed.

> ...it would be difficult for Americans not
> to cheer the overthrow of a foreign
> dictator.

But the left has found a way, hasn't it? Even though he was dictator *we* chose for that country.

This post is why I no longer tell people of my Democratic Party membership. The champions of modern liberalism are showy wordsmiths for whom feeling trumps reason. It's infantile.

> He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war...

I recognize the stench of literary pretension! These are my people! DO NOT TRUST THEM.

> ...to take power, to remain in power, and
> to use that power for the sake of
> themselves...

Oh-PUHLEEZE. Y'know, I thought GHWB set an unreachable standard for venality with his 11th-hour pardons in 1993. But no, Clinton handily and inarguably surpassed it in January 2001. (Does anyone remember Mark Rich?)

Doc, Doc, Doc: The world is full of people whose motives and methods are completely unknown to you. It's not a problem, we just need you to SFU when you feel the impulse to type something stupid into your precious Underwood.

Posted by: Crid at September 28, 2004 9:37 AM

There's growing old gracefully, and then there's these warbly, heartfelt cries from limp-dicked literary men. What an embarrassment. He should be institutionalized.

Posted by: Lena "Throw Me Down and Pound Me" Cuisina at September 29, 2004 1:56 AM