12 July 2008

Tony Snow Dies

Tony Snow, former newsperson and White House press secretary, has succumbed to cancer. He seemed a decent man, although I rarely agreed with him.

But it reminds me that when he announced the return of his cancer a year ago, George Bush's response confirmed a suspicion I had had for a while. Bush's response was, "Tony's going to whip this."

Snow had cancer in his liver. With contemporary treatments, you have a decent shot at living longer than he did, but you are not going to whip it. And I realized that George Bush is either a magical thinker--just saying it will make it so--or he's completely unconcerned about the reality, and is only focused on perception.

I thought at the time that it was actually an egregiously cavalier response to what was effectively a death sentence. And I also thought that this has been the whole operational method of the Bush White House, all that matters is what we say, not what you think you saw.

It's a horribly inept way to make public and foreign policy, and probably explains 90%+ of this administration's failures.

It puts me in mind of the great Groucho Marx quote: "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"


James k said...

That's an interesting observation.

Looking at Bush's actions across his 2 terms it seems to me that he suffers from an unusually high degree of Illusion of Control, a belief that he can affect events far beyond his actual ability to do so.

I believe that all politicians suffer from this to a degree, but Bush seems to have a bigger dose of it than most.

Collin Brendemuehl said...

Or maybe it was just a bit of hyperbole intended to convey his best wishes. Not everything is so insidious.

James K said...

Insidious is not the word I'd use. I genuinely believe Bush is committed to making the world a better place. The danger is that he is blind to his limitations.

In any case this is just one data point among many.

James Hanley said...

Collin, I think the best wished came in the other part of Bush's comment at the time, which was,

'Stay strong; a lot of people love you and care for you and will pray for you.'

I hve no problem with that part. But Bush is given to making absolutist statements that bear no relation to reality. In addition to "he's going to whip it," he also said we would rebuild New Orleans bigger and better than before.

I also wouldn't say "insidious" is what I had in mind, so much as just an indicator of a particular way of thinking that I believe is dangerous in a person who holds such a powerful position.

Lyndon Johnson's refusal to recognize that we were losing the Vietnam war is another case in point.