Glenn Greenwald has a thoughtful essay in Salon (titled “A tragic legacy: How a good vs. evil mentality destroyed the Bush presidency“), which is an excerpt from his upcoming book of the same name, in which he discusses the role that Bush’s simplistic and dogmatic worldview has played in his disastrous administration.
The article is an interesting read, and one doesn’t have to agree with everything that Greenwald says to accept the basic premise, which is that if one thinks one is the holder of an absolute truth, then the gray areas that make up most of life, and the complexity that underlies almost every important decision in the modern world, will forever be beyond you, and you are doomed to failure. While Greenwald applies this to the thought processes that led the country into the ill-conceived Iraq quagmire – that one can see people and actions as purely good or evil and hence make decisions based on that determination rather than a deep understanding of the situation – the general point applies to many other actions taken by the President.
Interestingly, this column appears on the very same day that Bush has once again vetoed a bill to promote embryonic stem cell research. As Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports in The New York Times
“I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line,” Mr. Bush said, exercising the third veto of his presidency. At the same time, he issued an executive order intended to encourage scientific advances in regenerative medicine, a move that he said would respect “the high aims of science” without encouraging the deliberate destruction of human life.
His (Christian) morals must be the right ones. A human life is the same thing as a few cells. Although support for stem cell research is quite popular among Americans, there appears to be no room for discussion with the President about the complexities or scientific debate around these issues. Because his decisions don’t come from informed discussion; they come from ideology, which trumps reason, science, and complex debate with depressing regularity these days.