The Depths of the President's Surface
In this week's East Hampton Star, writer E.L. Doctorow writes movingly and pursuasively of our democracy's systematic erosion under Bush. For The Peach, the passage in which we heard our own thoughts echoing the most was this:
[T]his president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.
The Peach wonders: Is there some kind of absolute, genetic, hard-coded difference between people who see this clearly about Bush, and the others who look at him and see the opposite? Are our brains wired differently so that where we see a shallow, phony, self-interested would-be dictator, those red-staters see substance, integrity and the secure future of our democracy? We just don't get it. How can they not see, along with Mr. Doctorow, along with the rest of us, that Bush "cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves."