Monday, August 02, 2004

Skippy of the Day: Dilbert's Boss

The daily meeting at Dilbert's company produced this nice little exchange:
Boss: "We've had a bad year, but management is committed to staying the course."

Dilbert: "Question: Did you just say our leaders are receiving huge compensation packages to keep doing what doesn't work?"

Boss: "No. The way I said it, they're visionaries."

Dilbert: "So...They keep doing what doesn't work...and they see visions?"

There is more to this than just a simple jab at Bush (Or Bushes, really, since they have both beaten that "stay the course" line into the ground during their respective Presidencies). The Republicans have been really big on this "Consistency" issue regarding John Kerry. Their thinking is that the "waffle" monicker worked so well on Clinton, they should use it again.

First off, the Bush administration shouldn't be throwing stones in glass houses. Second of all, there's a big difference between (a) changing your mind due to new evidence and (b) changing it due to the political winds. Unfortunately, an example of (a) is Bill Clinton's push to allow homosexuals into the military. Personally, I loved the thinking behind this: It told Republicans he wanted to stop the legislation of morality in our society and bring more focus on important issues like the economy and health care. The thinking was sound, but the strategy behind it was not. The military, a longtime Republican stronghold, balked at this move and brought their force to bear. In the end, Clinton relented to political pressures, implemented that silly "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy, and the Republicans tasted first blood. The rest is history.

The fact is, Kerry probably does both (a) and (b) at one time or another, as most politicians do. Ideally, you get someone into office who has done more of the former than the later, and I think Kerry fits into that category. Human beings (presumably) have brains in which to think out our problems in order to look at all the facets and possible solutions. The dangerous option is to have someone who states they have a singular vision and that nothing but nothing will change that. If that were exactly what we needed as a country, then we could get a damn computer to do it. And anyone who has watched the old "Star Trek" series knows what happens to civilizations where the computers take charge.

The biggest flip-flop that the Bush commercials keep talking about is the decision to go to war. Some people questioned the whole war rationale for a number of reasons, but Kerry made the call based on evidence that only later turned out to be seriously flawed. I didn't think he was right to do it, but he still did it and he'll have to live with that. Now that he has realized what an error it was (and is now seeing how poorly Bush has run things since the successful initial invasion), he's coming out to say that he was wrong and the war was wrong. Good for him. It would be nice to actually have a president who actually acts humble as well as talks about it.

In the case of the Iraq war, The facts are these: Bush is the one who instigated this war on false pretenses and Kerry is one (of many) who agreed to it based on that evidence.

But if we're talking about waffling, let us not forget the biggest waffle of all, folks. Burn it into your minds before election day:

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."- G.W. Bush, 9/13/01

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."- G.W. Bush, 3/13/02
Bush's bigger context for that second quote was that since Bin Laden's chief sponsor (Afghanistan) had been taken care of, he was less of a concern in their view. That is cold comfort for the many families of victims who see that infamous bearded image as the one person responsible for their shattered lives. So much for "Dead or Alive", and so much for closure.


Anonymous said...

Bush and Kerry, like every other politician in America, has failed to be consistent. I recall clearly Bush campaigning on a platform of limited government, promising, among other things, privatizing part of social security. Instead, Bush has not moved one inch toward doing so, but has created a brand-new, multi-billion dollar entitlement (perscription drugs), planned to go back to the moon, and exploded the federal budget in a way that would have made Republicans scream in blind fury if it were carried out under a Democratic administration. As we Libertarians put it, "Republicans campaign like Libertarians, but govern like Democrats."

As for me, these issues are secondary in importance. For almost three years, the only thing that I have cared about is foriegn and defense policy. Bush has done extraordinarily well/terribly depending on your understanding of how nations interact with each other.

The wise hawkish point of view is this: there is a popular belief that America is widely seen as a bully within the Arab world. This belief is a myth. In fact, America is seen as a coward. Osama Bin Laden, in fact, wrote repeatedly to this effect. He fully expected that his attacks would result in an American withdraw from the Middle East (a la Spain and the Philippines).

He was wrong, but we still suffer this image problem. The Arab people, in general, regard America as a nation of cowards that run when a drop of American blood is shed (Beruit, Mogadishu, etc.) This impression encourages them to attack us, because terrorism against the U.S. seems profitable. We will continue to be in danger until the Arab world sees us not as cowardly and weak, but as strong, violent, and a little bit crazy. Angering America must become a truly dangerous proposition. Then we will be safe(r).

Our intelligence was completely faulty. The CIA and company said that there were WMDs all over Iraq. They were monumentally wrong. So were the intelligence agencies of France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China, all of which said that Iraq had WMDs. So did Bill Clinton's Administration, which wisely counseled overthowing the Hussein regime.

I can honestly say that I argued for the war partially on the basis of the WMDs, but principally on the need to scare the Arab world into fearing America. To do so, we needed to find a large Arab country, and destroy it. We needed to create the impression that when America is angry, it tends to break things and go into violent, uncontrollable fits. That would make the Arabs fear us more, and hence, make us safe(r).

Certainly our intelligence was horrendously faulty. We should act promptly to overhaul these agencies. But if you are going to argue that Bush lied about the WMDs is Iraq, then logically, you must also argue that Bill Clinton lied, as well as the governments of France, Britain, Germany, China, and Russia. -- David P.

Anonymous said...

To address the Bush quote that you provide -- it is indeed disturbing. I fact-checked the quote and I see no reason to doubt that it is legitimate. Bush should be focused on finding Osama Bin Laden, among other war projects. Critics are right to call Bush out on this bizarre and irresponsible statement.

I would also say that Bush should not limit our activities to hunting Bin Laden. Not while Iran and North Korea are perilously close to nuclear bombs (according to our highly accurate intelligence agencies) and our 'friends' in Saudi Arabia pour millions of dollars into terrorist front organizations. Put them on the bombing list, too.

Here's a hilarious presentation of the hawkish approach to foreign policy. It's truly psycho, and would be catastrophic if implemented, but shows a kernel of truth about the way the world works:
--David P.