The World's Most Dangerous Man
When it comes to the course the Iraq war is about to take, however, it is the narcissism of one particular Baby Boomer that carries the most weight, and George W. Bush is fundamentally different from his generational fellows in ways that are rather frightening. Hersh, citing administration insiders as well as military sources, paints a portrait of a president so caught up in his own sense of historic and religious mission as to be virtually inaccessible, either to reasoned argument or plain common sense:
"'The president is more determined than ever to stay the course,' the former defense official said. 'He doesn't feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage "People may suffer and die, but the Church advances."' He said that the president had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney. 'They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,' the former defense official said. Bush's public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. 'Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,' the former official said, 'but Bush has no idea.'"
Bush is a prisoner of his own demons, and we, in this era of the imperial presidency, are his prisoners, as he steers the country on a reckless road to ruin. The idea that there is something very wrong with that man in the White House, that he is wreathed in a darkness of potentially apocalyptic deadliness – that he is, in short, a deeply disturbed and dangerous individual – is chilling. From the image of the president as benevolent father-figure, we have come, in the historical blink of an eye that marks the time since the days of Dwight Eisenhower, to the chief executive as a reckless and wanton destroyer – not Zeus, but Loki. Blind to evidence, and rendered half-mad by a toxic mix of religious and ideological fervor, the most powerful man in the world is on a death-dealing rampage. No different, really, than one of those crazed gunmen you read about in the news, who go on a spectacular crime spree, kidnapping and murdering their way across several state lines, holding hostages and threatening to kill them the whole way.
We are, all of us, George W. Bush's hostages, and, what's especially scary is that we don't know what he's going to do next. He seems capable of anything. Hersh reports the creation of a special squadron detailed to crossing over the border and pursuing the insurgents into Syria, and certainly we have every reason to expect this war to spread. The reversion to air power perhaps augurs the dawning of new "shock and awe" campaigns, this time over Damascus and points west. This is what the War Party is gunning for, and unless popular opposition to the war forces an American withdrawal along lines suggested by Rep. Murtha – out in six months – that is exactly the prospect we face. We must escalate, or get out – we cannot "stay the course." The president and his advisers are beginning to realize this, and, given Bush's views – after all, I didn't entitle a column "George W. Bush, Trotskyite" for nothing – I leave it to the imagination of my readers which option he will choose.
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