Monday, April 16, 2007

Wolfowitz: Not So Holy

That sense of moral rectitude with which the Bush administration swept into power... remember? They possessed the truths, the keys to the nation's progress. They were holier, by God, than thou. They were going to clean up the White House, clean up the government, clean up the country, clean up the world--and make it safe for their vision of democracy. Now, with virtually every last shred of the Bush retinue's reputation in tatters, comes Paul Wolfowitz, cheerleader in chief of the war designed to clean up the Middle East and the Bush appointee to head the World Bank. He marched into that office with missionary zeal and righteousness in his eye, bent on cleansing the institution of corruption--and brought his well-paid team of fellow missionaries with him, to the dismay of many who had been laboring there before. It seems, though, now, that as with so many of the Bush zealots, the rules simply did not apply to him personally. Seems that his lady friend deserved the boost his power could provide her with, to rocket her up the rungs of employment and remuneration.

Now comes the apology, the wish that he'd acted in a wiser fashion than he did. Shades of Don Imus, late of talk radio celebrity.

So is Wolfowitz any better than the Don? The problem lies in his assumption of privilege and rectitude, the blithe assumption that this kind of action was his right, that no one would stop to question it. And the truth is, that almost no one did. He could have gotten away with it, because so much of the Bush administration's policies and procedures went unquestioned for so long. It's a bleak picture these days, now that the questions are finally beginning to be asked, and no matter how bleak, I for one am grateful that the truth is coming out.

I tend to think that this is all a part of that "American literalism" I was talking about the other day, to take everything we're handed at face value. We could use a healthy dose of skepticism... Which brings me back, as always, to the Buddha. As I understand it, this august and enlightened mind cautioned us against taking even what he himself said at face value, and insisted that we not simply accept the "truths" that others lay on us, but rather test them out for ourselves through careful thought and critical observation. Do they work, in the real world? Do they bring about good results?

Sadly, in the case of our current administration, it turns out that virtually nothing holds up to that simple test. It's all, as we liked to say back in the homeland, an unmitigated cock-up.


Carly said...

Lee went to a pet convention Saturday. Cesare Milan, the Dog Wisperer was there talking to the crowd about training dogs. He usually starts from the premise of the dog as a social and pack animal. And while speaking of how dogs follow the dominant dog, he said to a round of applause, " Humans are the only ones in the animal kingdom who will follow an unstable leader."

Anonymous said...

That advice from the Buddha is one of my all-time favorite pieces of wisdom. That he could say to the world that the system which worked so wonderfully for himself might not apply to everyone else is one of the strongest testaments to his enlightenment. Definitely food for thought, thanks!zl