After a while, it starts seeming a bit like Holocaust denial, or belief in a flat earth:
..."You paint a picture, Bob, of the president as the cheerleader-in-chief. Current reality be damned. He's convinced that he's gonna succeed in Iraq, yes?" [Mike] Wallace asks.
"Yes , that's correct," Woodward says....
And Woodward says that no matter what has occurred in Iraq, Mr. Bush does not welcome any pessimistic assessments from his aides, because he's sure that his war has Iraq and America on the right path.
"Late last year he had key Republicans up to the White House to talk about the war. And said, 'I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.' Barney is his dog," Woodward says....
--"Bob Woodward: Bush Misleads On Iraq," CBS News, Oct. 1, 2006
BLITZER: ... We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.
BUSH: Yes, you see -- you see it on TV, and that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there's also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people.... I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is, there's a strong will for democracy.
--from CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Sept. 24, 2006
I'm not calling Bush a Nazi when I compare him to Holocaust deniers. I'm saying that he shares with them a paranoid's reaction to reality.
Think of what it would take to sustain the belief that the Holocaust is a lie: You'd have to believe that all the people who've ever spoken about surviving the Holocaust have managed to coordinate their stories -- over decades -- and all those stories jibe with documents that have been painstakingly generated to sustain the fiction. You'd have to believe that no one who knows the truth has ever broken ranks and spoken out, and that all physical evidence that would reveal the truth has been successfully suppressed or destroyed.
Isn't that essentially Bush's attitude toward Iraq pessimists? He thinks every critic of the war is either misreading the facts or deliberately mischaracterizing them. Everyone who says things are going badly in Iraq is in face constructing a fiction, one that advances an anti-Bush, anti-America, anti-freedom agenda. It doesn't matter how many people come to the same conclusion -- all of them are wrong.
Of course, this is not very different from the way religious conservatives talk about evolution, or much of the right talks about global climate change -- all evidence is inadequate or fake and everyone who professes belief is falling for fakery or acting in bad faith.
It's also similar to the way a lot of people have talked -- though not so much recently -- about "the inevitable triumph of socialism." You remember dialectical materialism -- socialism couldn't not prevail. That's how Bush feels about "freedom": "I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, [the current violence] will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is, there's a strong will for democracy."
I'm not still not quite sure why Bush can't do what any other chief executive would do in a situation like this -- blame one or more subordinates, issue a few pink slips, and move on. Why not fire Rumsfeld? All I can guess is that Bush believes Rumsfeld is someone who works to bring about the inevitable triumph of freedom, and is thus "a good man" -- and "a good man" can't make mistakes, because anyone working toward a good end can't possibly be doing the wrong thing. It's terrifying if that's what he believes, but that may be just what he does believe.
(Blitzer via the Carpetbagger Report.)