Category Archive 'Bush Doctrine'

16 Sep 2008

The Problem Is Not What You Don’t Know – It’s What You Know That Isn’t So

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Bradley Burston, winner of the the Eliav-Sartawi award for Middle East journalism

Bradley Burston, award-winning member of the chin-stroking International liberal commentariat, provides a very striking illustration of the truth of the old rustic apothegm in his What is truly frightening about Sarah Palin editorial.

It was in the taxicab this morning that it finally struck me about Sarah Palin.

I get it. I get that millions of Americans have a crying need for someone to stand up and say the things that Sarah Palin has been telling them.

I get that many, many Americans are fed up with big government and shame in patriotism and energy dependence and media condescension. I recognize that there are many on the right who are galvanized by a woman addressing the nation in condemnation of gun control and abortions. It’s clear that many in the heartland and even on the Blue State coasts have been waiting years to hear someone take a take-no-prisoners verbal lash to Beltway waste and liberal political correctness and, by implication, to cultural pluralism and tree hugging and the very mention of the word Washington.

But it wasn’t until I got into the taxicab this morning, that I realized what the American voter truly faces this November.

The radio was playing a clip from her ABC News interview, the one in which she was asked about the Bush Doctrine.

The problem was not that she was unacquainted with the doctrine. Millions of Americans are unacquainted with it.

The problem is that Sarah Palin was also asking those millions of Americans to put her first in line for the most important position in humankind. …

Asked during the interview if she had the ability and the experience to serve as president of the United States, she replied without hesitation, without reservation, without contemplation – and without knowing, on a profound level, what that would, in fact, entail. “I’m ready.”

Here is the answer that is truly frightening. It lets us know that the nation may be in danger of electing another leader bearing the most profound of George Bush’s shortcomings: blindness to one’s own shortcomings.

Blindness, that is, to the breadth and depth and height and shape of what one does not know. Say what you will about Donald Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary knew an unknown unknown when he saw one. Sarah Palin, for whom appearance is understandably significant, has one in her mirror.

But what about Bradley Buston’s blindness to his own shortcomings: his unjustified certitude, his complacency, his arrogance, and his misinformedness?

First of all, George W. Bush never identified any proposition as the “Bush Doctrine.”

That there is a Bush Doctrine at all is a pure journalistic invention, and wide-spread disagreement exists as to which of several formulations represents the alleged Bush Doctrine. Even how many alternative Bush Doctrines have been referred to is uncertain.

Charles Krauthammer, who claims to have been the first to use the phrase, identifies four versions of the Bush Doctrine.

Michael Abramowitz, in the Washington Post, quotes Paul D. Feaver, a member of the National Security Council, as having identified seven versions. Wikipedia used to agree, stating, as of September 13th:

The Bush Doctrine is a journalistic term used to describe some foreign policy principles of United States president George W. Bush, enunciated in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Scholars identify seven different “Bush Doctrines.”

But this inconvenient portion of the discussion has been edited away and the entry locked to prohibit further alterations. The old text is presently visible in Google.

This little case of journalistic malpractice could serve beautifully as a metonymy for the numberless cases of factual error, false interpretation, and complete misstatement served up by the establishment journalistic community as Truth and Wisdom during the Bush Administration’s years in office.

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