Friday, June 06, 2008


David Brooks is in assistant-professor mode again today, asserting that (don't start yawning yet) the nineteenth-century notion that maturity requires the mastery of one's sins helped make Lincoln a great leader, while the abandonment of that notion is one reason we have crummy presidents now.

Brooks goes on to say this:

It would be nice to have a president who had gone to school on his own failings. It would be comforting to see a president who'd looked into the abyss, or suffered some sort of ordeal that put him on a first-name basis with his own gravest weaknesses, and who had found ways to combat them.

But, er, don't we have a president who’s "looked into the abyss" and "suffered some sort of ordeal that put him on a first-name basis with his own gravest weaknesses"? Isn't that the whole point of the story of Bush's abandonment of drinking?

Except that, even as that story is told by the most loyal Bush acolytes, there's no sense that Bush has ever "gone to school on his own failings." The story seems to be that he wanted to stop drinking, so he did what he always does when he wants something: he looked for someone to take care of everything for him. In other contexts, that someone has been Karl Rove or Condoleezza Rice or David Petraeus. In this case, it was God. He started reading the Bible, or at least short Bible-derived works, and he started hanging out with Bible-oriented people, and God helped him quit drinking while apparently allowing him not to make any changes whatsoever to the touchy, snappish, narcissistic core of his being.

Nice how that worked out for him.

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