As I sit here tonight and think about this last post I will write about George Bush as President of the United States, I am reminded of the questions over the years from family and friends about my attitude towards the 43rd President. Some have felt I was too harsh and personal in my opinions about Bush, and as such wondered what provoked me so much.
Was it just because of the Iraq War? No.
Well, then was it about the way he disregarded the Constitution? No.
Well then it must be because of the 2000 election? No.
Though clearly all these issues and policies are vitally important, and each frustrated me, they are not the reason that I found it almost impossible to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt over the years. Rather my problem with President Bush started early in his campaign for the Oval Office. In fact, what made him objectionable back when he was just a candidate also turned into the reason for his failure as a leader of this nation.
Let me put it in plain English.
He lacked curiosity, and that lifetime flaw insured he would not be an intelligent man. Simply put, he was not smart enough to be my president.
Some will call that an elitist liberal ‘not as good as me’ attitude, but the facts over the past eight years prove my initial thoughts about George Bush were correct. The lack of being curious about the world led to some dreadful results.
Mr. Rockefeller was biting in his criticism of how President Bush has dealt with the threat of Islamic radicalism since the Sept. 11 attacks, saying he believed that the campaign against international terrorism was “still a mystery” to the president.
“I don’t think he understands the world,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does.”
He added, “Every time he’s read something he tells you about it, I think.”
Over the past eight years I wanted my president to be smarter than the average citizen. While Bush was rich, and brazen enough to win the national election, he was not curious enough to understand the nuances of policy-making to insure a better America. Fact is he never once cared enough to learn the things he did not know.
A concrete example of this total lack of curiosity came during his visit to Vietnam, and not to put too fine a point on it for a man his age growing up during the war, but it was his first trip to that country.
While in Vietnam Bush missed any true local flavor as he darted and dashed, as is his custom, more intent on leaving than on learning. As President of the United States he could have set a very much different schedule to accommodate a normal healthy curiosity. Instead, Bush left his desire to broaden his understandings of another culture behind him. As news accounts noted on one Saturday he had only one nonofficial event that lasted 15 minutes, with almost no Vietnamese to interact with. How could anyone visit a country they had never seen before and not wish to visit the places that history books tell us so much about?
On Saturday, Mr. Bush emerged from his hotel for only one nonofficial event, a 15-minute visit to the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command, which searches for the remains of the 1,800 Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War.
There were almost no Vietnamese present, just a series of tables displaying photographs of the group’s painstaking work, and helmets, shoes and replicas of bones recovered by the 425 members of the command. He asked a few questions and then sped off in his motorcade.
It has also been reported that while in Russia on a separate trip he spent under 20 minutes at the treasures of Red Square!! That just makes my head spin!! I think this type of behavior is a show of disdain for much of the world, and a serious lack of intellectual heft that I consider an essential part of what creates a real national leader.
Through the natural follow-up on what we find curious, we also discover an education. Things might be much different today had there been an ability by President Bush, prior to the Iraq War, to be curious what the mindset of the Iraqi people might be if a foreign army occupied their country. History has lots to say on this topic.
Had Bush been more curious about the consequences of global warming, and the impact on people around the globe, he might have treated the Kyoto treaty with more seriousness. Had Bush been more curious to meet real people in the various nations he had traveled as President, and talked with them, hearing their voices and views, he might have had more ability to lead effectively as the leader of the free world.
I had candidate George Bush pegged correctly in 2000 as one who possessed little curiosity. His inability to understand world conditions then was shocking, but I had hoped his subscription to The Economist was just being sent to the wrong address. After watching him for eight years as President we now all know the sad facts.
There just isn’t a lot of depth and intellect to George Bush. Simply put, he was not smart enough to be our president.