Sorry, Bush, to have been so preoccupied with my own little dramas these past couple of days. Today, though, we get back to our favorite topic: you.
Here's the thing: in view of the Bolton nomination, and now the looming crisis in the Senate over your judicial nominations, I've had it in mind to do a piece around what Edgar Allan Poe felicitously called the "imp of the perverse." It occurred to me that this mischievous, sometimes malicious creature might be the instigator of what a large number of us, out here in the real world, consider to be your utterly outrageous nominations, so inappropriate to the job description as to be incomprehensible to any rational appraisal. I mean, John Bolton, who so evidently despises the U.N. and everything it does? In a world already deeply suspicious of the United States and its role as a member nation? And your judges? Whose records show nothing but contempt for the rights and values most of us regard as vital to the basic fairness of our society? I mean, Bush, come on, be serious!
So the only way I could begin to understand these nominations was by attributing them to this imp of the perverse--a deep inner impulse to do exactly the wrong thing, exactly the opposite of what might be expected of you, just for the perverse excitement of it. I imagined that perhaps you were getting your jollies out of shocking us all and making us mad at you. I thought you might just be having fun, sticking your thumb in the eye of conventional wisdom and watching the results. I could almost have liked that quality a bit. I could have sympathized. I think I have something of that same imp in me. Or rather, to be truthful, it's something I secretly aspire to, without really having the guts to go ahead and act upon its urgings. There's something almost, well… admirable and healthy about that kind of subversive attitude.
So here I am, all ready to write this piece about the imp of the perverse, when you jump in with both feet with your threat to veto a serious and much-needed bill expanding funding for stem cell research--a bill that is backed, apparently, by even quite a number of your Republican folk. And this new pronouncement raises the bar ominously. Because the imp of the perverse still seems to allow for a little humor, a little element of mischievousness, a naughty-boy quality that remains a bit endearing even if irritating, even if at times destructive. But this new threat, from yesterday… Well, this is way beyond the imp of the perverse. This comes from something more like stubborn, ideologically-driven ignorance. To my mind, it's in the same category as the thinking (non-thinking) that disputes decades of well-founded research on evolution and demands the teaching of "intelligent design" in our schools. It reflects a totally unimaginative, fundamentalist, literalist view of the world that is so scared of the potential benefits of scientific and intellectual research that it retreats into sheer, blind, stubborn denial.
I was explaining my theory of the imp of the perverse to my neighbor at dinner the other night, Bush, and he was unpersuaded. He was more inclined to subscribe to the theory of your willful ignorance and ideological tunnel vision. I must say, in the light of this latest pronouncement, I'm more inclined to agree with him than I was at the dinner table. I might even have to abandon my theory, which would be a pity: it was a lot more fun… and a lot less frightening.