Monday, June 16, 2003

Joshua Micah Marshall gets scooped on this story about Rand Beers, a former counterterrorism advisor in the Bush administration. Worn out by an administration that is making the country less secure by the day, Beers (a registered Democrat), left "for personal reasons," according to Ari Fleischer. He then joined the Kerry campaign.

"'The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure,'" said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. "'As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out.'"

A significant reason for his frustration was the Bush administration's lack of interest in opposing points of view or in unpleasant facts that may not support the president's decisions. Says Rand's wife, Bonnie, "'It's a very closed, small, controlled group. This is an administration that determines what it thinks and then sets about to prove it. There's almost a religious kind of certainty. There's no curiosity about opposing points of view. It's very scary. There's kind of a ghost agenda.'"

It's scarier than that, I think. It isn't just that the Bush is not intellectually curious, or that he's so focused and decisive once he's made a decision that it's "damn the torpedos..." It is the sheer disgust he feels for those who oppose him, and the schoolyard bully-like derision with which he treats alternate points of view. This is a man who did not win the popular vote, who won in effect on the equivalent of a coin toss (though it was more like "heads I win, tails you lose"), but rules like he was given a mandate. A president who refers to hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters as "a focus group."

And now we find this attitude runs throughout the administration. Michael Powell's attitude towards the unprecedented number of emails the FCC received opposing deregulation was an equally dismissive, "we considered them when making our decision," has even Bill Safire fuming.

The irony is that despite then-candidate Bush's assertion that he'd make decisions based on "principles, not poll numbers," this is an administration driven by polls. One has to wonder who they talk to. Only those listed on Republican donor lists, or just those too stupid to have caller ID? Certainly, people who can't spell "nuanced."


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