Saturday, August 30, 2003

 Did you think I'd forgotten about you? 

Well, you'd be right. I kinda had forgotten about my blog. It's been a crazy month - tons of wedding planning and organization, nutso work schedules, and preparing to see Cindy off to Switzerland for 2 1/2 weeks. I know, she's the one who went on the trip, not me, but for some reason that still ends up taking a lot of my time. Go figure.

Anyway, I remembered the blog partly because I came across another great insight about Bush that I wanted to preserve. This was from a "correspondent" to Eric Alterman at his blog Altercation:

Name: Andrew Cohen
Hometown: Geneva, NY
Dear Eric—
Of all the criminally stupid policies advocated by the Bush administration, the president’s position on stem cell research might well be the worst. My mother died in 2002 at the age of 63 of pancreatic cancer, a disease with genetic risk factors disproportionately common among Ashkenzic Jews. My brother suffers from another inherited disease, retinitis pigmentosa, also common among Ashkenzim. Having lost a significant number of his eye’s rods and cones, he can no longer see at night, drive, read from a book, or see his students raise their hands. Fortunately, he can still read from a computer screen, teach with the help of an assistant, care for his daughter, and even play basketball on an outdoor court. His main hope for forestalling blindness is stem cell research.

I’ve always felt that Bush’s most troubling trait is not his unintelligence, but his immense good fortune, which has left him totally insensitive to the problems of ordinary humans. Most middle-aged Americans have experienced unemployment or poverty, suffered a divorce, been sick themselves, or lost a parent or sibling. Not George. Heck, he hasn’t even lost an election (if you don’t count 2000). His policy on stem cells reflects this fact. He obeys the Christian Right because he simply cannot understand what it’s like to suffer. Indeed, his comments about his “destiny” suggest that he believes in a correlation between luck and God’s will, between health and sin. In the end, his charmed life has left him with no personal connections to any policies except upper-class tax cuts, oil drilling in ANWAR, and revenge against Saddam Hussein.

The Republicans often mock Bill Clinton’s overtly empathetic style (“I feel your pain”), seeing it as validating the much-reviled culture of victimization. But one need not be a psycho-historian to conclude that Clinton’s empathy was the product of his experience. The man is a walking Oprah episode, overcoming a dead father, an abusive stepfather, economic instability, a drug abusing brother, and a troubled marriage. Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelley, died during his first term, a fact that future biographers will undoubtedly consider when evaluating his behavior during the following years. The style and substance of Clinton’s administration reflected not only his elite education (as Karl Rove would have it), but also the extraordinary misfortunes he survived. We’d be lucky to have another president like him.

Nailed it right on the head, as far as I'm concerned.

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