Did the Administration know the truth and lie to others, so that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” as the head of British intelligence put it contemporaneously? Or was it that Bush officials “misled themselves…. And then they misled the world,” as the United Nations inspector at the time, Hans Blix, has recently said–in keeping with the old principle of salesmanship that the most persuasive deceiver is a self-deceiver? Or did the Administration, like an overzealous policeman who believes someone is guilty and plants evidence on him to “prove” it, just believe that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and, combining faith and fraud, fix the facts to fit its belief? Whichever it was, the effort was arduous and protracted. And the same can be said of other assaults on factual truth and its tellers. For hiding the real world, with its powerful capacity to pour forth oceans of new facts every day, is not an inconsiderable task.
Perhaps that’s why, in a more recent discovery about the Bush officials, they turn out to have had a minimal interest in actually running things. Many have noted that the Administration had no plan for running Iraq. But it took the federal response, or lack of one, to Hurricane Katrina to show that the same might be true of the Administration’s approach to the United States. In light of this new surmise, other puzzles melt away: a Clear Skies Act that dirties the skies, a Social Security plan to address a financial shortfall that deepened the problem and so forth. It has turned out that the Republican Party, which has long seen government as “the problem,” not “the solution,” is uninterested in governing. But if a “government” ceases to govern, can we call it a government? If a “supermarket” sells no food, can we call it a supermarket? We all keep referring to the “Bush Administration,” yet administering seems to be the last thing on its mind.
In other news,
We went to see Shopgirl this weekend and I highly recommend it. Is it a date movie? In a sense. It’s a character-driven movie with fine acting. Also, Steve Martin seems to wear an inordinate amount of eyeliner. Definite improvement over the novel (which I enjoyed as well). As Sa Rah pointed out to me, the female lead is a much fuller character in the film, she doesn’t come off so objectified. At arnee rate, it’s enjoyaboo.