April 18, 2008

The Jerk

As I've written before, the single best compendium for all things anti-Bush is Dan Froomkin's daily blog "White House Watch" in the Washington Post, which I've been reading regularly (religiously, you could say -- I cling to it) for about a year. The blog is always 5 pages long, yet the astounding thing is that Dan never lacks material. A lot of the blog consists of excerpts and quotes from other writing and newspaper accounts, but he uses a great deal of original source material as well. Today, for example, he includes citations to a National Defense University study which concluded that the Iraq war has been a "debacle," the sort of "deep" research you almost never see in the mainstream press anymore.

Indeed, Bush has been such a terrible failure on every front that Froomkin's major difficulty is probably the process of exclusion; there is so much negative news to deal with on a daily basis that inevitably a lot of Bush's destructive activity must go unremarked. I've written about this before, the President's protean capacity for generating bad news, his Bizarro-Midas Touch.

Froomkin today quotes Sigmar Gabriel, the German Minister for the Environment (their equivalent of our Environmental Destruction Agency), on Bush's recent Rose Garden "initiative" on global warming. Herr Gabriel called Bush's speech "Neanderthal," but perhaps that's an insult to proto-humans everywhere, including those in GEICO commercials. Bush proposed a regime in which the United States would stop the growth in greenhouse emissions by U.S. polluters (particularly power-generating plants) by the year 2025. If I understand him correctly, Bush is saying that the amount of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere may continue to increase every year between now and 2025, at which point, presumably, the emissions would be "forced" to level off at whatever toxic level they had achieved in the interim.

Bush, in 2025, will be about 80 years old and completely irrelevant to American life except as a footnote for historians seeking presidencies comparable in disastrous consequences to James Buchanan and Herbert Hoover. His "idea" seems to have nothing to do with dealing with climate change. Why did he say anything at all, let alone something this insultingly stupid? I think the answer may be simpler than we think. Bush enjoys being a jerk. It doesn't go a lot deeper than that. It's his form of a sick practical joke. We should never forget that he's capable of joking about things that are deadly serious for other people. He joked about not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, for example, and yet since that was the putative reason for the invasion, his little pantomime (which was corny and dumb, at that) amounts to laughing off 4,000 American deaths, 30,000+ wounded soldiers, many with very serious injuries, and an untold (because his Administration won't bother to count) number of Iraqi lives destroyed, probably in the hundreds of thousands.

Bush doesn't care about global warming. He doesn't believe in it, he doesn't take it seriously, and he's spent his whole presidency dodging a real response to it. Way back in 2000 I recall thinking that his election could bring on a disaster of unprecedented scope because we risked eight years of inaction on the critical issue facing the human race. Bush was much worse than I thought he would be, than I thought he could be. The reason he proposed something so ridiculous is because it amuses him to find an "initiative" so far removed from anything effective that it's like proposing absolutely nothing. He's saying: see, you want me to react to this ridiculous crisis made up by liberal scientists, so I'm going to propose that the U.S. increase its CO2 for the next 18 years. Get it? His utterly delights in being so contrary. And despite the devastating effects, God help us all, he thinks it's funny.

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