Birds of a Feather
You're not going to like me for this, Bush, but I was watching the Mike Wallace interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sixty Minutes last night and I couldn't help but be struck by the qualities you share in common. Struck and, frankly, deeply disturbed.
You don't believe me? Well, here's what I saw: I saw a man of cocky self-assurance, willing to shoot off his mouth at the slightest provocation, alternately bellicose and charming in an awkward, slightly sinister way, unable to listen, and sensitive to the slightest suggestion of criticism. Okay? And then there was the same glib dismissal of the possibility of any point of view other than his own, the same prejudicial partisanship, the same nationalistic arrogance, same readiness to exculpate his friends and castigate his enemies, and the same propensity to ward off serious questions with a jibe and the same sly mockery of the questioner. Same grin, hiding the same anger--in my judgment--and the same discomfort with himself as a public figure. Oh, and he had to close the interview because it was time to get off to his prayers.
Don't get me wrong, Bush. I don't like this guy. I wouldn't trust him, as they say, any further than I could throw him. I find his intolerance of Israel and his constant reference to all Jews as "Zionists" to be repugnant. He's clearly a rabble-rousing menace of the first order. I was that much more distressed, then, to realize that there was much in what he had to say that I could not disagree with, particularly in his remarks about the role that America seems recently to have adopted in the world, its arrogant use--some would say abuse--of power, its assumption of rightness, its tendancy to look for military solutions to every problem, its relentless pursuit of its own interests and its apparent lack of true concern for the suffering of others.
While I hated to hear these things coming from the mouth of a man whom I consider to be a dangerous hate-monger and bigot, I hated still more to find myself in agreement with many of his points. And one thing he had over you, Bush: at least this man knew how to talk. (I have to assume that his simultaneous interpreter knew what he was doing in the interview.) Even his wildest pronouncements come out in well-modulated language, with every appearance of rational, sequential thought behind them.
Clearly, this man does not wield the kind of military power that you have at your fingertips, Bush. And yet--isn't this a curious and uncomfortable irony?--it's undeniable that he has you by the balls and is enjoying every minute of it. He delights in every opportunity to thumb his nose at you in full view of the world. Your invasion of Iraq, along with your neglect of other problems in the Middle East and your stubborn refusal to sit down and talk to those who have earned your lofty disapproval, has left you weakened and bereft of the kind of moral authority and flexibility you'd need to negotiate solutions in that sorely troubled part of the world. You have left yourself open to the open distrust and mockery of men like Ahmadinejad. What a tragedy for you. What a tragedy for all of us.