Thursday, September 25, 2008

Deception as Policy

“All war is deception” Sun Tzu

A few months ago I blogged about the dangers of constant violent imagery. Once you start down the road of comparing your situation to a battle, a war or even a campaign you start to behave as if winning the “battle” and surviving long enough to ultimately win the “war” are the only real goal. Truth and accountability seem to be the first casualty to this type of twisted, ends justifies the means logic.
Eight years ago a candidate for President promised to end this type of permanent campaign. He promised to take politics out of the driver’s seat and make actually governing his primary focus. He promised to reach across the aisle and actually make the changes and corrections to the government that those who put him in office expected.
Somewhere along the way President Bush lost his focus. Changing the culture in Washington took a back seat and he began playing by the same rules as the rest of them. Granted, Bush did not create the concept of the permanent campaign. But he did take it to new levels.
Sun Tzu and most military leaders since would tend to agree that deception is necessary in war. Unfortunately, our President and the rest of his advisors felt that it was okay to use deceptive tactics, that may be permissible during a war, to deceive the Congress and ultimately the American people into going into war in the first place.

Scott McClellan’s book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception gives a first hand perspective of the events that lead to the Bush White House loosing the ethical higher ground that they had promised to bring to Washington. McClellan puts much of the blame on Libby, Rove and Cheney. He doesn’t seem to think that they shared the President’s vision of changing the culture.

McClellan portrays President Bush not as the villain, as some conservative pundits have claimed, but as an honest decent man who, for one reason or another, just didn’t stand up and do things the way he had promised to, the way they should have been done.
I admire McClellan’s dedication and conviction to the truth and a better government.

“I don’t believe the path to better democracy is served by exaggerated claims, distorted partisan attacks, or unsupported accusations of bad faith. Neither of our leading political parties is a repository of evil, and the vast majority of leaders on both sides of the aisle and at all levels of government are decent, well-meaning, and hard-working citizens who love our country and want to do the right thing. In diagnosing the problems we suffer from and the kinds of changes we need to make, I think it’s crucial to cling to truth, even when it is more nuanced, complex, and ambiguous than the extreme partisans on either side may choose to believe.” (p.309)

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to reading this one. Thanks for the review.