Monday, December 11, 2006

Bush's Car: Not Equipped To Make U-Turns

A recurrent theme in the preaching of our friend Joel Mason, the priest at St. Mary the Virgin (Episcopal) church in Chappaqua, New York, is the Hebrew concept of repentance, encapsulated in the noun teshuvah or the verb shuv. As Joel explains, shuv literally means "to return" or "to turn around." When giving a sermon, he illustrates the concept by walking down the aisle of the church and then literally doing a U-turn, to represent what we should do when we realize we are going in the wrong direction. That's what repentance is about. (And as anyone who has ever gotten lost when driving has discovered, the longer you keep going the wrong way, the longer it will take to retrace your steps and start making progress toward your actual goal.)

Which brings us to the cover of this week's Economist magazine (hat tip to Bagnews Notes for drawing attention to it):

Yes, it's a warning to Bush against falling prey to the advice from the Iraq Study Group to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. (You can read the editors' leader explaining their reasoning here.) And the image they use is precisely Father Joel's image of teshuvah--except that the editors of The Economist are urging Bush, "Don't reverse course! Keep going in the direction everyone agrees is disastrous! Whatever you do, don't repent!"

I'm dismayed and a little surprised that The Economist is lending itself to the expanding rightwing assault on the ISG's recommendations. I hold no brief for James Baker (the sanctimonious thief of Florida's electoral votes in 2000), but I expected "mainstream conservative" voices to happily line up behind the ISG plan as a way of extricating the US from Iraq without accepting any blame or responsibility for the fiasco. So, like many Democrats, I was hopeful that the release of the ISG report would at least break up the logjam caused by Bush's intransigience.

But then, perhaps it makes little difference what The Economist or anyone else advises Bush. As he loves to remind us, he is The Decider, and his increasingly petulant comments over the last few days make it clear that he intends to do in Iraq exactly what suits him best--which is certainly not to admit error.

For all his Christian posturing, repentance has never been George W. Bush's style.

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