Monday, July 18, 2005

Lies, damned lies and religion

Bush's dance on vaseline

Much is being made, as well it should, of the President's retreat from his pledge to fire anyone who leaked Valerie Plame's identity. Part of the process has been to parce previous White House pronouncements, the better to hoist Bush by his own pitard.

All well and good. But I see another potential good here. One of the things Scott McClellan may regret saying is this:

In September and October 2003, McClellan said he had spoken directly with Rove about the matter and that "he was not involved" in leaking Plame's identity to the news media. McClellan said at the time: "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved," "It was a ridiculous suggestion" and "It's not true."

I'm guessing they are going to be very torn up about whether and how to walk that one back. Because, without getting into a "depends on what your definition of 'is' is" discussion, I would not be surprised if Bush actually believed he did know it -- as he defines knowing. He knew Karl Rove was innocent in the same way he knew that there were WMDs, and that Osama got birthday cards from Saddam. More to the point, he knew it the way he know God wants him to be president.

In other words, he knows Rove is blameless in the way he knows his religious beliefs are true -- based not upon a survey of facts, evidence and expertise, but an inventory of only the desolate, monochromatic landscape of his own interior.

Thus it is likely that Bush will, to his ruin, continue to cling to his belief even as the tsunami of contrary facts engulfs him. And maybe, just maybe, we then finally have a meaningful confrontation between the "reality-based community" in which actions have consequences, and the fairy-tale world where Neocons, fundamentalists know things because, well, just because.

The closest we got to justice in Iran-Contra was Reagan's wistful confession that, although "in his heart" he believed otherwise, his administration had indeed traded arms for hostages. Well, I lived under Ronald Reagan, and Dubya, you're no Ronald Reagan. Reagan only rarely broke bread with reality, but he was no fundamentalist, either. Bush is perhaps the least pragmatic, most (small c) constitutionally rigid guy ever to be entrusted with the football.

That inflexibility will be his ultimate downfall. He will refuse to admit the obvious and inevitable, and it will cost him everything. If we are lucky, those who are so blind that shall not see will decide that following Bush lemming-like into that abyss might not be such a good idea after all.


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