Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Holy Crap! Richard Cohen writes something sensible!

Richard Cohen, last seen whining about how mean Stephen Colbert was to the President at a White House dinner, seems to have snapped out of it for now:
In Iowa, during the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush answered a question about why he so ardently supported capital punishment. He offered a number of reasons, but one -- deterrence -- prompted me to raise my hand and ask a follow-up: But, sir, there is absolutely no evidence that capital punishment is a deterrent. To my astonishment, Bush conceded my point: "You're right. I can't prove it. But neither can the other side prove it's not."...

Ponder that answer for a while. What it means is not just that Bush embraced a famously irrational way of thinking -- the logical fallacy often called "proving a negative" -- but in this case he used it to overwhelm all evidence to the contrary.

Up against this kind of mentality, the rational man seeks comfort in fantasy. It was our fantasy that a new Iraqi government, formulated months ago, would so turn things around that Bush would begin a phased withdrawal. It was our fantasy that the November congressional elections would make a difference -- and that Bush would be forced, when he saw the clear sentiment of the American people, to reverse himself. It was our fantasy that the report of the Iraq Study Group would compel the president to rethink everything -- so vast was the panel's expertise, so sound its reasoning and so comforting its appropriately thinning hair. In fact, so wasted was its effort. The members were the mullers. Bush was the decider.

And so those who have decided otherwise -- a couple of four-stars, maybe the chief spook and all those awfully smart people throughout government and academia -- are ignored and/or are heading out the door. Bush listened to them when he agreed with them and refused to listen when he did not....

The execution of Saddam Hussein was Iraq in a nutshell.... It was sloppy, putrid with the stench of sectarian hatred and, as always, totally unnecessary. George Bush saw it differently by not, as is his custom, seeing it at all.

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