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April 22, 2002

Pointy-haired President J. Bradford de Long quietly points out what ten platoons of synchronized neoconservative intellectuals can’t handwave away:
Defenders of Bush say that the fact that he is a slow study with a weak general knowledge base who doesn’t crack the books too hard and doesn’t think too fast doesn’t matter. Why not? Because Bush has smart people to do his thinking for him: Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, et cetera.

[…E]ven the smartest group of subordinates will not generally produce good policy out of their mutual tug-of-war. You need somebody at the top smart enough to harmonize—to have a policy of his or her own into which the talents of subordinates can be fit. If you don’t have a smart boss, then decisions about the views of which subordinate should prevail on which issue are made randomly as the boss chooses one over another on a case-by-case basis for no good reason. What emerges is not a policy, but an incoherent mishmash.

Thus Colin Powell tries to isolate Iraq through diplomacy. Karl Rove drafting the State-of-the-Union address wins Iraq two new allies—one of which, Iran, hated Iraq more than anything else up until the State-of-the-Union address gave them powerful interests in common. Colin Powell persuades Bush to call for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Donald Rumsfeld blocks Bush’s words from being backed by any deeds to put more than verbal pressure on Ariel Sharon. Karl Rove pushes the nice rhetorical line that the sponsors of terror are as guility of it and are as much enemies of the United States as the terrorists themselves. Donald Rumsfeld points out that the Saudis who financed Al-Qaeda and who finance Hamas today are necessary allies in any campaign against Iraq.

The net result? No one, anywhere in the world, has any idea of what American policy actually is. No one, anywhere in the world, thinks that they can trust American words to be backed up by American deeds. Neoconservatives like Michael Kelly try to assure us that this is all part of some deep, cunning plan. But it isn’t. It is the inevitable result of having a dumb boss.

Anyone with ten minutes’ experience in business knows this. Most of the neocon pundits retailing the myth know this. You know this. [09:40 PM]
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