Divorced From Reality Pt 2
Posted by Michael Cohen
A few days ago I wrote a post that argued George W Bush is completely divorced from reality. Today, in an interview with Morton Kondracke in Roll Call (via Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post) he confirms it. Here is an excerpt:
When I asked him whether he thought America was a stronger country than when he arrived in office -- in view of a weakened dollar, increased debt, rising oil prices and dependency and international polls showing a steep decline in America's reputation -- he batted the question back.
"'We're stronger because our military is stronger . . . and becoming more modern. We're stronger because we recognize the threats of the 21st century and are dealing with them.
"'We're stronger because we've added jobs. More Americans are working. . . . Real wages are up. . . . We're still a flexible economy with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. He have more debt, but we've also got more assets. We're stronger because America is in the lead, using its influence.'"
What is most interesting about all these arguments is that with slight exception they are basically all untrue. Let's go to the breakdown.
"We're stronger because our military is stronger." It's really hard to believe how after 5 years of war anyone could argue this point with a straight face, but that's our president! In case you were wondering, according to CAP, "The active Army today is recklessly stretched far beyond recommended use, ultimately hurting our troops and dangerously depriving our country of the strategic reserves necessary to respond to true crises."
But more to the point, the notion that our military is what makes America strong is so, how shall we say, 20th century thinking and yet in the next line, Bush says our military is becoming more modern. I suppose reminding our President that our recent security success in Iraq came from old-fashioned counter insurgency tactics as opposed to the use of modern information technology would sort of go in one ear and out the other.
"We're stronger because we recognize the threats of the 21st century and are dealing with them." Only in George Bush's mind is this true. Not only is Al Qaeda stronger than it was before 9/11 we have a report today that underlines just how unprepared we are as a nation for 21st century threats:
The U.S. military isn't ready for a catastrophic attack on the country, and National Guard forces don't have the equipment or training they need for the job, a commission charged by Congress reported Thursday. Even fewer Army National Guard units are combat-ready today than were nearly a year ago when the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves determined that 88 percent of the units were not prepared for the fight, the panel said in its report.
"We're stronger because we've added jobs." This has a kernel of truthiness, but is fundamentally misleading. Yes, we've added jobs, but at the lowest level in four years:
The increase in unemployment to 5.0 percent in December, paired with a meager 18,000 jobs added to the economy, make 2007 the weakest year for job growth in the past 4 years.
"Real wages are up." This is just a good old lie. Real wages actually declined in 2007. According to the Economic Policy Institute:
Both hourly and weekly earnings fell in 2007, a sharp reversal from the gains in 2006. After growing by about 2% in 2006, both hourly and weekly earnings fell, after adjusting for inflation, by about 1% last year.
"H[W]e have more debt, but we've also got more assets." Your guess is as good as mine as to what this means.
"We're stronger because America is in the lead, using its influence." Right, because when the President went to the Gulf and reiterated what a huge threat Iran was to the region everyone got on board . . . oh wait a minute.
Maybe the President was referring to his trip to Saudi Arabia where he convinced the Saudis to increase oil production . . . oh I guess that won't work either.
Do you think the President really believes that we are in the lead, positively influencing other nations? Here's the scary part; I really think he does. I often joke about the President's detachment from reality, but honestly I'm not sure it's a joking matter. I seriously wonder whether this man is even remotely aware of what's happening around him. If you based his mental acuity solely on his public statements in recent days you really have to wonder. Isn't this what the 25th Amendment was drafted for?