Thursday, September 09, 2004

A diagnosis

Timothy Noah characterizes the administration's behavior in clinical terms.
"A common theme is the theoretician's contempt for empiricism. But how did George W. Bush, of all people, end up getting conned by a bunch of eggheads? Typically, it's intellectuals, not party-hearty Dekes, who are most susceptible to grand untested theories. It was a reasonable worry, for example, with Bush's 2000 opponent, Al Gore. Bush, who not only lacks intellectual curiosity but seems to hold in contempt those who possess it, does not belong to the risk group for willed agnosia. One would have expected Dubya to growl at his advisers, 'Enough of this hifalutin' talk. Tell me how we're going to solve the problem at hand.' But on the evidence, whenever Bush attempts this (as in the quote from the Suskind book, above), it comes out a mere feint, easily quieted by the enunciation of one of the words his PR superstructure uses to define his presidency: 'steadfast,' 'entrepreneur,' 'forceful,' or whatnot. This suggests that, although not easily conned by intellectuals, Bush is easily cowed by them. He is intimidated out of trusting his own Texas-bred common sense. So rather than willed agnosia, a better diagnosis for Bush is probably hysterical agnosia brought on by exposure to deep thinkers. No wonder he hates them as a class."
The cowed part is certainly consistent with previously noted cowardly behavior.

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