President Pan

In responding to a Washington Post article examining what Bush’s legacy might be, Kevin Drum writes:
I continue to dither about what exactly it is that motivates George Bush, but there's at least one thing that's always seemed clear to me: he is the most unfailingly partisan president we've had in a long time. It's genuinely hard to figure out a political philosophy that ties together tax cuts, Medicare expansion, war in Iraq, immigration reform, Mars missions, Social Security privatization, and vastly increased domestic spending, but even if ideological coherency sometimes takes a backseat in Bush's world, partisan advantage is always front and center.
I’ve thought about this a lot, too, wondering what is, exactly, the method behind his madness. Whole books have been written on the subject, and I cannot begin to fathom the number of words across the blogoshere dedicated to the pursuit of discerning the enigmatic motivations of this president are. Dry drunk, child of privilege, slave to overwhelming Oedipus complex, puppet, idiot…legions of hypothesis have been proposed, and yet instead of one having more veracity than another, I think they are all part and parcel of one pathetically simple overarching character attribute, so entrenched as to have become immutable. The man is pathologically immature.

A stunted child in a colossal candy store, he is the ultimate spoiled child, with everyone around him catering to his every whim, indulging his fanciful desires, and never, ever, but never, telling him no. Those who may dare are quickly dismissed as disloyal, unpatriotic, or just plain wrong.

Attempts to find cohesion in his pet policies are futile, as whatever he fancies is what he pursues. There is, clearly, a theme that runs throughout many, though not all, of his proposals, which falls neatly under his label of “Ownership Society,” an ideology which itself exposes a puerile stinginess, with its emphasis on me over we. What is Bush’s proposed Social Security reform if not resistance against delayed gratification and a childish refusal to share?

A child is not an adept contextualizer. Assessing long-term ramifications and the effects of one’s actions on others are skills developed with maturity, as one realizes that the world revolves around something distinctly more vast than oneself. It is only Bush’s extreme immaturity that allows him to hold the views of the world he does; role-playing, spending beyond one’s means, acting like a bully, making rules that benefit only one’s friends and marginalize those different than yourself, never owning up to one’s own mistakes and instead blaming everyone else for everything…these are the traits of a schoolyard antagonist, the habits of a child. A spoiled and insolent child who will never grow up, because no one ever forces him to do so.

Compromise, empathy, and sacrifice are concepts of a grown-up world. Consistency, compassion, and reason are not to be found in the purview of an arrested adolescent who mocks those at his mercy.

I remember being young and foolish, thinking that I knew more, knew better, than all the adults around me. I was smarter than they were, the unbearably dull old fools. Rejecting the counsel of those wiser, sensing the years in which that wisdom was earned create a seemingly untraversable distance, are familiar marks of youth, one that falls away as we ourselves age.

But imagine if someone spent his entire life never recognizing the folly of declining guidance, never learning to defer to the advice or judgment of others, always believing that he knew more, knew better, than everyone else, and so had no use for curiosity or counsel. Imagine if he were handed the power of an empire. Imagine if the boy who refused to grow up became the most important man in the world.

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