Honestly Held Beliefs

George W. Bush is not an honest president. That is most obvious from the way he and his administration have damaged the country with the unethical and irresponsible invasion and occupation of Iraq. They lied about WMD, they lie about progress, they lie about the connection between Iraq and 9-11 (then coyly deny they ever made the lie, just before making it again). And that’s only Iraq. Generally speaking, he is a deceitful man and the country is worse off for it.

But, the country is also worse off for beliefs he honestly holds. Consider his two vetoes of life-saving stem cell research:

From 2006, just before the midterm elections:

“This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others,” Bush said Wednesday afternoon. “It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect. So I vetoed it.”

[Full story]

From a few days ago:

“Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical — and it is not the only option before us,” Bush said in remarks in the White House’s ornate East Room after the veto.

[Full Story] In our response to the horrible policies of George Bush and the right wing element in this country, does it matter–does it affect our course of action–if the justification for the horrible policy is an honestly held belief rather than a fabricated pretext?

6 thoughts on “Honestly Held Beliefs”

  1. I think it’s both mitigating and exacerbating. I voted to Bush in the first election, and part of the reason (I have no idea how much, but it was in my mind) was that I believed he believed in things. I really never thought, and I still don’t, that Gore believes in things. I thought Gore would change 100% of his beliefs in order to be president, and I believed Bush would change maybe 95%. Are either of those good? Nope, but I was definitely attracted to the idea that his own opinions actually mattered to him.

    As it happens I think Bush is actually way less alterable than I thought, and in a bad way.

    So I don’t know, and I’m not sure I added anything to your discussion other than to say that it matters to me on some level.

  2. You don’t think Gore believes in things? Global Warming, Promoting Technology, Efficient Government? Wow. It really is amazing how different our perceptions of these people are. I believe the media narrative that Bush is stupid; you believe the media narrative that Gore is without convictions. There you go.

    It’s funny because when I wrote this I was thinking we should be less harsh or more understanding when dealing with something like this which is a deeply held belief as opposed to something like the nation building operations in Iraq which are not only contrary to Bush’s position on the campaign trail but–in my estimation–a cynical effort to sustain his ego and bring tremendous profits to his friends.

    Your comments reveal that we have to treat it different because compromise is how democracies work. I missed that problem.

  3. Well, I should revisit the Gore statement, because he has changed since he left office.

    He clearly believes in fighting global warming. He basically never talked about it while running for president.

    I think he may believe in promoting technology, but his willingness to throw global warming under the bus when it looked like a hard issue to discuss on a campaign makes me think he’d do an about face if it were politically expedient. And that’s the main thing: what we know about his actual passions tells us that he is willing to put them aside to get elected.

    Now, as I mentioned, as much as I think Gore is highly malleable, I think Bush is pretty bad as well, it’s just that in 2000, I had an easier time believing Bush had some limits than Gore. I still don’t see any evidence from his actual runs for office that he was ever willing to hurt himself in the polls in order to take a tough stand. Seems me he ran for the base as badly as Bush Sr. did when he had to (re)capture Reagan Democrats.

  4. Campaigns mess people up. Take John McCain. I’m not a fan of him for president (I against bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran), however, I think he would conduct himself in office as a principled person. Nonetheless, he has basically become a super right winger on everything this primary season. He has done everything but jump up and down and say, “I want to be president damn it!” I felt that was something Gore and Dole both suffered from as well.

    I think pandering indicates a lack of trust in the electorate. In many ways, it is the opposite of open mindedness. While both allow for the potential to change ones position, open mindedness show respect for others by considering the validity of their positions, while pandering not only rejects the validity of the position, but assumes the other can’t handle the debate. Sensing it in a cadidate is a pretty legitimate reason to be turned off by the candidate.

  5. I don’t think the solution to decades of moving to the authoritarian right is to pretend politics don’t matter.

    The Republican Party is completely lost. It has created a tremendously corrupt & ineffective government and a dangerous & immoral foreign policy. So much so, that the only way to be against the Democrats is to be for “non-partisanship.” I think we need to restore private rights and efficient government. We need to restore the role of diplomacy in foreign policy. We need to respect reason and science.

    We need to elect Democrats.

    IMHO. 😉

    BTW, I also know that Unity 08 is likely to be the party that you’ve wanted to vote for your entire life, backing guys like Tsongas & Lieberman demonstrate a deep and enduring commitment to such things on your part. My comments are more directed at the “equal time” Unity 08 is enjoying in mainstream media now that no one can vote Republican with a clear conscience.

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