Why We’re In the Mess We’re In

Matthew Dowd, an adviser to President Bush, today said in an interview that he was disappointed by the President’s stand on the war, on the will of the public, and, well, just about everything. It’s clear that Mr. Dowd is conflicted in taking this public stance. Said Mr. Dowd:

I really like him, which is probably why I’m so disappointed in things

Those first four words are what have spelled our doom these past six years. More below the fold.

I suspect a lot of people who voted for President Bush in 2000 and 2004 are feeling similarly disappointed; I imagine they feel similarly conflicted for similar reasons: They like President Bush, just not his policies. And that‘s why things are messed up in America today. People have to stop making world-changing decisions — such as, whom to vote for — based on whether they “like” the person. It’s a stupid instinct left over from days when your social circle was the other 20 semi-evolved primates with whom you hunted. In an age of nuclear bombs and anthrax postage, it’s outmoded and dangerous.

George W. Bush exemplifies the danger of the most dangerous finding in The Power of Persuasion by Robert Levine. Dr. Levine explores all the ways people influence other people. He comments that various studies have shown that the single most important factor in making a sale is that the salesperson be “likable”. This was much more important than other, seemingly more obvious factors — such as expertise, competence, sex appeal, or even trustworthiness. That is, people will find themselves buying decrepit automobiles from shady used-car salesmen — used car salesmen who don’t even try to hide their shadiness! — as long as the salesmen are also likable in some matter. We’ll purchase a lemon from a screw-up, as long as he’s an earnest, down-to-earth, shucks-ain’t-he-cute likable screw-up.

Indeed, as events have proven, we’ll buy an administration — and sell the soul of our Republic — to a likable screw-up. Take an honest look at George W. Bush’s life history and resume — a resume which is distinguished only by its extreme mediocrity. We picked a low-C student who, shucks, promised to try hard and stuff; and we c got exactly what we should have expected — and exactly what we deserve. And then, after he squeaked into the Oval Office on the slimmest margin possible (one vote, though at least a vote by a justice of SCOTUS), we went and picked him again, after we had four years of his antics and hijinks.

No one can call G.W. Bush deceptive: He lived his mediocrity for all to see, but heck, he seemed like such a nice guy and so likable, especially compared to that stiff and stern John Kerry. Who would ever ask Kerry over to a frat party? The idea is absurd. And since we wouldn’t want him at our parties, it naturally stands to reason we wouldn’t want him in the Oval Office.

It boggles the mind. It literally boggles the mind. This ancient and useless primate instinct launched us into a war of choice and a simultaneous assault on the very fundamental principles of justice and democracy that constitute this Republic. Why? ‘Cause President Bush was likable.

God, please give us someone more awkward but less inept!

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