Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bush should not to be blamed for lying

With continual revelations that the Bush administration at best manipulated information, and at worst made up information, as the justification of invading Iraq, it seems to many that the presumptive moral superiority that Bush and Company is out of whack.

But wait, science can explain:

In the new study, detailed in the November issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers find that when this line between right and wrong is ambiguous among people who think of themselves as having high moral standards, the do-gooders can become the worst of cheaters.

The results recall the seeming disconnect between the words and actions of folks like televangelist and fraud convict Jim Bakker or admitted meth-buyer Ted Haggard, former president of the National Evangelical Association, an umbrella group representing some 45,000 churches.

"The principle we uncovered is that when faced with a moral decision, those with a strong moral identity choose their fate (for good or for bad) and then the moral identity drives them to pursue that fate to the extreme," said researcher Scott Reynolds of the University of Washington Business School in Seattle. "So it makes sense that this principle would help explain what makes the greatest of saints and the foulest of hypocrites." (1)

The President, or rather the person who takes on that role, seems inclined to fall into presumptive moral superiority - and not just George W. Bush. Past Presidents have displayed the disregard for truth on their drive to press their (or the United Sates) moral superiority onto others.

The author Howard Zinn points out:"President Polk lied to the nation about the reason for going to war with Mexico in 1846. It wasn't that Mexico "shed American blood upon the American soil" but that Polk, and the slave-owning aristocracy, coveted half of Mexico.

President McKinley lied in 1898 about the reason for invading Cuba, saying we wanted to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control, but the truth is that he really wanted Spain out of Cuba so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations. He also lied about the reasons for our war in the Philippines, claiming we only wanted to "civilize" the Filipinos, while the real reason was to own a valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to accomplish that.

President Wilson lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to "make the world safe for democracy," when it was really a war to make the world safe for the rising American power.

President Truman lied when he said the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was "a military target."

And everyone lied about Vietnam -- President Kennedy about the extent of our involvement, President Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin and President Nixon about the secret bombing of Cambodia. They all claimed the war was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really wanted to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent.

President Reagan lied about the invasion of Grenada, claiming falsely that it was a threat to the United States.

The elder Bush lied about the invasion of Panama, leading to the death of thousands of ordinary citizens in that country. And he lied again about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991 -- hardly to defend the integrity of Kuwait, rather to assert U.S. power in the oil-rich Middle East.(2)

So in retrospect it was not George W. Bush and his cronies to blame for lying to the nation about Iraq, it was in their human nature.

People almost lie reflexively," University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman. reports. . "They don't think about it as part of their normal social discourse." But it is, the research showed. "It's tied in with self-esteem," says Feldman. "We find that as soon as people feel that their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels." (3)

President George W. Bush has low self esteem, for a variety of reasons. So it's not going to be in his nature to tell the truth.

Another problem with low self esteem is that the feeling of being seen as a looser can cause Mr. Bush's reluctance to bring the troops home, to grow. It Mr. Bush and his cronies who are pushing the idea that pulling troops out of Iraq would be conceding "defeat" and would mean that the American blood shed over there was in vain (Iraqi lives don't enter into the equation). Forgetting the fact that the two main reasons we went over there:

* Guaranteed that Iraq does not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons, including those which Donald Rumsfeld said were known to be "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat"

* Deposed the evil dictator (the one we helped to power and supported for three decades), and killed his devil-spawn sons.

have been achieved.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bush, his stay the course policy, works against him. The majorities of Americans now say that it is no longer possible for the U.S. to "win" in Iraq (whatever that means) and favor a timetable for pulling troops out. And as polls show Bush' popularity decreasing, his self esteem lowers and he falls prey to another consequence of low self esteem -increased materialism.

Researchers have found that low self-esteem and materialism are not just a correlation, but also a causal relationship where low self esteem increases materialism.(4) On the world stage, for Mr. Bush this does not mean products, but countries. It is therefore not truly his fault that he feels the need to attack and occupy another country such as Iran - he can't help himself.

Luckily for the world Mr. Bush's time leading the United States is coming to an end.

And as we face our next election we should consider other findings in the scientific research:"Men lie no more than women, but they tend to lie to make themselves look better, while women are more likely to lie to make the other person feel better." We must realize therefore that we are doomed to be lead by lie-rs and our choice will be what types of lies we would prefer to hear.

If polled and asked of our feelings towards the current President, we should stand on higher moral grounds and lie - saying we love and respect him and think he has done and is doing a great job - in hopes of shifting Mr. Bush's prerogatives during his final days.

by Paul Grant (follower of Basho)


2. Howard Zinn

also referenced:

Recommended Books:

With the Bush administration in permanent crisis, a renowned Washington psychoanalyst updates his portrait of George W.'s public persona—and how it has damaged the presidency.

Insightful and accessible, courageous and controversial, Bush on the Couch sheds startling new light on George W. Bush's psyche and its impact on the way he governs, tackling head-on the question few seem willing to ask: Is our president psychologically fit to run the country? With an eye for the subtleties of human behavior sharpened by thirty years of clinical practice, Dr. Justin A. Frank traces the development of Bush's character from childhood through his presidency, identifying and analyzing his patterns of thought, action, and communication. The result is a troubling portrait filled with important revelations about our nation's leader—including disturbing new insights into:

* How Bush reacted to the 2006 Democratic sweep in Congress with a new surge of troops into Iraq
* His telling habits and coping strategies—from his persistent mangling of English to his tendency to "go blank" in the midst of crisis
* The tearful public breakdown of his father, George H. W. Bush, and what it says about the former president's relationship to his prominent sons
* The debacle of Katrina—the moment when Bush's arrogance finally failed him

With a new introduction and afterword, Bush on the Couch offers the most thorough and candid portrait to date of arguably the most psychologically damaged president since Nixon.

Howard Zinn, who served as a bombardier in the Air Force in World War II, is the author of "A People's History of the United States" (HarperCollins, 1995). He is also the co-author, with Anthony Arnove, of "Voices of a People's History of the United States" (Seven Stories Press, 2004).

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