Smiley on Dubya

If you hate Bush, you’ll love this. If you love Bush, you’ll hate it.

And if you used to love Bush, but have recently come to the conclusion that he may not be everything you’d thought or hoped he was, it’s going to make you a little uncomfortable. Heck, it may make you downright mad.

In any case, Jane Smiley’s recent nard-stomping of the Bushies is worth a read, if for no other reason than it’s a beautifully elegant, well-reasoned, passionate summation of a particular (progressive) point of view. With each passing day, it’s also a perspective that gets harder and harder to rebut on its merits, pretty much assuring that it will be vigorously rebutted via whatever ad hominem is at hand.

Anyway, I keep hoping that Bush’s perpetual slide toward the Mendoza Line will let everybody step back and say okay, now that the truth about The Great Divider is pretty much unarguable, maybe we should take a look at what kinds of things are really important for the country’s wellbeing. (He’ll never get that far down, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his approvals dipped below 30% before all is said and done. If people were responding honestly to the poll questions instead of sticking tenaciously to the idea that speaking against Bush is the same as voting for a Kennedy, I imagine he’d already be in the 20s, but I can’t begin to prove it. Just a suspicion.)

[THX: Dr. Harold Tedford at the Theater Desk]
:xpost:

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5 thoughts on “Smiley on Dubya

  1. I’m one of those people who bought Bush’s platform of “Compassionate Conservatism” when he first ran for office but who later became disillusioned with him and voted for someone else the second time around. Smiley just assumes I was an idiot to begin with, and offers a thanks-but-no-thanks for people like me who’ve changed our mind. What does she expect her inflammatory rhetoric to accomplish? Instead of sparking further reflection on my part, all she’s done is make me realize that the alternative to Bush is a bunch of left-wing radcials who are, in their own way, equally as fanatical as Bush but with more screws loose.
    “Progressive” does not always mean good just as “Conservative” does not always mean bad. Unfortunately, Smiley seems as incapable of seeing shades of gray as Pesident Bush and, instead, prefers her own definitions of black and white, as faulty as they may be.

  2. Smiley certainly doesn’t seem to be in search of new friends – I’ll give you that much. But surely she doesn’t really make you think that your only choices are evil imperials or screeching liberal fundamentalists, right? I mean, I know that’s what our culture’s media organizations seem to want because controversy sells.
    Then you write:
    >>”Progressive” does not always mean good just as “Conservative” does not always mean bad.<<
    Couldn’t agree more. And examples aren’t hard to find.
    >>Unfortunately, Smiley seems as incapable of seeing shades of gray as Pesident Bush and, instead, prefers her own definitions of black and white, as faulty as they may be.<<
    Well, here’s the thing. I don’t think Jane would argue with this. In fact, I think she’d argue that her assault should be construed more narrowly than you’re taking it. I’ve kicked Bush and his hardcore supporters harder than she does in this piece, but have never seen those attacks as anti-conservative. On the contrary – I’ve argued relentlessly that Bush is NOT a conservative in any way, shape or form, and that he is in fact a grave threat TO American conservatism.
    So while she doesn’t spend any time carving out a detailed list of who’s on the bus and who isn’t, I’d be surprised if she intended her rant as broadly as it’s being read in some corners.

  3. I agree with you that he’s really NOT a Conservative (although my grandfather, were he still alive, would disagree, I’m sure). I keep wanting to describe Bush as a Fundamentalist–but that word implies “sticking to the basics,” while Bush and his cronies on the Religious Right have redefined the relgiosity of that in such new political ways that that’s hardly “the basics.”
    That’s probably an aside to Smiley, though. If you don’t think her rant should be interpreted so broadly, how might a narrower interpretation look?

  4. If you don’t think her rant should be interpreted so broadly, how might a narrower interpretation look?
    Well, I can’t speak too much for her, but I can tell you how MY mind works on the subject. First, we have to free ourselves from the idea that there are two sides, liberal and conservative. There are a LOT of sides. So if I hammer the shizznit out of Bush, it doesn’t mean I’m liberal, because honestly, I think he’s open to even more serious beatings from the side of legitimate conservatism.
    Second, it’s critical to understand that the way American politics works, most Americans really don’t have anybody to vote FOR. Nobody on the ballot – at least nobody who has a chance (and that’s back to how our system is structured) – represents me and my beliefs. Damned near everybody winds up voting for the lesser of the evils as they perceive it (the fact that they’re often wrong, for reasons that we beautifully explained by Dewey and Lippman decades ago, is yet another argument).
    In that sense, we all have a lot in common. I can whack people for being dumb enough to vote for Bush, but I also have to accept that the guy I voted for isn’t, in the grand scheme of things, enough better that I could feel like I was supporting the best of all possible worlds. Kerry was Skull and Bones, too. The guys were fraternity brothers.
    All this boils down to “the system.” And since I’m in the midst of reading CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN, I’m even more sensitive than usual to the macro-problems. Bush isn’t the disease, he’s merely the latest and most obvious symptom.

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