Tuesday, September 21, 2004

One Of These Is Not Like The Others

What do these men all have in common?

Edward John Smith

Max Pruss

Joseph Hazelwood

Ernest M. McSorley

Piero Calamai

George W. Bush

The first five commanded ships that all met with disaster. They either died as a result, or were never offered another command, and rightly so.

We have strange ways of reacting when we feel our trust has been breached. If a friend doesn’t repay a loan, we likely won’t offer more cash. If a priest has molested a child, we condemn the entire church. If a spouse strays, it will take time before we trust them again. We’re human, we have feelings, and when those feelings are hurt, we try not to be hurt again.

I know, this doesn’t always seem to be so. Consider the number of abused women who follow the sage advice: “stand by your man.” Or Red Sox fans; they still have hope that they won’t be let down. A popular apocryphal definition of insanity is repeating an action and expecting a different outcome. And clearly, as a people we are ambivalent about being hurt and having our trust betrayed. In some cases we recoil in terror, in other cases we embrace our abusers.

Which brings me to the sixth person above. He has been a Captain of our ship of state. He has led us into a failed and fraudulent “War on Terror” with the resulting deaths of over 1000 American men and women. He has attacked the straw man of Saddam Hussein while ignoring North Korea and Iran. He has started a redistribution of wealth that would make Marie Antoinette proud (and has made Grover Norquist very happy.) He has encouraged his minions to ignore the U.S. Constitution (John Ashcroft, Ted Olson, Alberto Gonzalez.) He has unashamedly favored corporate interests over those of people (Enron, Halliburton, et al.) The list of transgressions is well known to most of us.

Yet, in a display of hubris rarely seen, he asks for another chance. He says that this time, he will not hit us again fix everything. This time he will not molest altar boys fail to take on the terrorists. This time he will pay back the loan offer more tax cuts to his base jump start the economy. And like deluded Red Sox fans, or tragic abused wives, almost half the country wants to give him a chance.

Put another way, would you ask O. J. to give you a shave?

(edited to correct links)