Dubya's search for rehabilitation has led Paul Krugman
and other writers to pen reminders of why the Bush presidency was a disaster zone. Much of the debate concerns Bush's basic intelligence: Was he smart enough for the job?
That question isn't easy to answer. In terms of IQ points -- if that
measurement means anything -- he probably has the necessary brainpower. What bothers me is the lack of intellectual curiosity. He seems willing to learn only what he absolutely needs to learn to accomplish a goal, and any unit of knowledge beyond that point is just annoying. To Dubya, education is like a fingernail: Trimmer is better.
For me, the most telling revelation came from Peter Galbraith
, an ambassador to Croatia, who disclosed that President Bush did not know the difference between the Shi'ite and Sunni sects of Islam until a mere two months before the invasion of Iraq.
Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, "I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!"
I never doubted the veracity of this anecdote, astounding as it is. To the best of my knowledge, neither Bush nor his official defenders ever called Galbraith a liar.
Younger readers may not understand the implications. The Iranian revolution of 1979 and the hostage crisis of 1980 received massive
news coverage in this country. Throughout those two years, numerous news articles and television programs provided detailed background briefings on the Ayatollah Khomeini and his religious tradition. Any American who paid any
attention to the news learned about the two main Islamic sects. Even louts in bars knew that the Ayatollah was a "Shi'ite-head" and thus not at all like the Saudis or the Egyptians. (At the time, Saudis and Egyptians were considered "good" Muslims.)
George W. Bush was 33 years old in 1979. Think of it: A man of his years, born into a political family and traveling in powerful circles, who somehow managed to avoid all exposure to Time
or any major newspaper. If he turned on the teevee, he must have flipped channels until he spotted Gilligan and the Skipper. It took continual effort to remain so stupefyingly oblivious to the
major story of that two-year period.
Is Bush a dummy? No, not in the Forrest Gump sense of the word. He's more like the rich kid in The Emperor's Club
: He'll learn exactly as much as he needs to, and only when compelled. Beyond that point lies the land of "Who gives a damn?"
Such a person should never be president. I would say the same even if he belonged to my party and gave lip service to causes I favor.