Just Above Sunset
November 7, 2004 - Bush as Robespierre?
Digby on Kerry –
He's not a crook, he's not lazy, he's not stupid. He's very accomplished, he's highly experienced and he's got good instincts. But, I'm convinced that the most important character traits in a successful President at this point in history are resilience and cunning; even if we win the election, politics are going to remain a bloodsport. The Republicans aren't going to fade away. This battle is ongoing and we must have someone who can withstand a punch and come back. It is going to be very, very difficult to govern. I think Kerry is running not because he's "electable," but because he's one of the few Democrats of his generation who has spent his life preparing to govern in the face of a radical political opposition. The job is not for the fainthearted...
Yeah, who would want that
The decision between Bush and Kerry will shape the world Americans live in during the next four
years. Even though Bush has been called the "CEO President," that isn't how he has behaved. Bush has overthrown two governments
and announced the imminent demise of several others. Bush is a revolutionary in Asia, a Robespierre. At least one of
Bush's revolutions is now mired in its Terror phase. What a real CEO thinks about Bush is obvious from the Paul O'Neill /
Ron Suskind memoir of life on the Bush cabinet. Kerry in contrast is a statesman committed to navigating the status quo without
producing unnecessary turbulence.
Ah, maybe so, but voters
The Bush administration is full of revolutionaries. They are shaking up the world by military
force. They are playing a role familiar in modern history, pioneered by Napoleon Bonaparte, of using overwhelming military
superiority to establish new forms of hegemony by appealing to desires for change among neighboring publics. Bonaparte promised
the Italians liberty on the French model, but in fact reduced the Italians to a series of French puppet regimes and then he
looted the country. So far Bush's Iraq looks increasingly like Bonaparte's Italy in these regards.
Ah, but Kerry is tall and
Bush is short. Bonaparte indeed.
We are all Americans now, announced that now famous Le Monde headline after September 11
2001. Back then, more than three years ago, it felt true. But we all know the feeling is not as strong now; and we also sense
that it is not George Bush alone who has made it so. Indeed, irrespective of how Americans vote over the next 24 hours, today
may even be the day when the rest of us should begin to stop being Americans at all.
Yeah, we all remember that,
unless we napped through ninth grade US History.
…Bush's apparent acceptance of the view that he may be doing God's work in the White House
has been much noted in this country as the campaign has wound through the autumn. But this is not some idiosyncratic hubris
on the president's part. It is shared by millions of American conservative evangelical protestants, many of whom believe,
along with the attorney-general John Ashcroft, that the very existence of the United States is proof of a divine purpose.
In that context, the idea that America should reject ties with necessarily less blessed nations becomes existential, an exceptionalism
of another order altogether.
Ah yes, God’s work
is never done. It seems He needs His foot soldiers.
It is the centrality to American public life of this militant conservatism, more than any other
single factor, which makes current British policy towards the United States so difficult to pursue productively or honourably
and which has brought this country's relationship with the US to its present ebb. Tony Blair's policy has been entirely consistent
- to stick fast to America under all circumstances. It will clearly remain his policy whether Bush wins or Kerry.
Kettle suggests Blair should be thinking in “a more informed way about the foreignness of America.” And that means…
… growing up and growing away process that need not and most certainly should not mean becoming anti-American. But unless and until we do it, unless we see that our centre of gravity in the 21st century should be as part of an alliance of liberal European states, we are fated to fall between America and Europe, not to be a bridge between them. It is a challenge to Blair, to whoever succeeds him, and to our very sense of ourselves.
The Brits don’t want to become Americans?
But everyone wants to be
This issue updated and published on...
Paris readers add nine hours....