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Letters from an exhibition

The January 2003 issue of Esquire contains an interesting article about Bush’s White House. I’m not entirely certain what to make of it, but it’s certainly good reading. The meat of the article is a fairly scathing portrayal of a White House where policy is set by Karl Rove, whose main concern is political advantage. As a sidebar, Esquire presents the primary source material: a letter from John DiIulio, detailing his concerns about the current administration.

You’ve got to wonder if this sort of thing is simply a trench war between branches of the Republican Party, in which one branch is using the press to good advantage. Actually, you don’t have to wonder that — it’s fairly obvious. The catch is that it’s not an ideological battle per se. It’s a battle between the concept of politics as a means towards advancing an ideology, and the concept of politics as an end in itself. In other words, are you trying to win so you can make the country better, or are you trying to win because winning is important?

To a certain degree, even that’s an oversimplification. I think that Bush does want to make the country a better place. I just think that he feels ideology is secondary to that effort. He believes in governance of the well-intentioned. This means that he can’t see the necessity for controls; since he would never abuse near-dictatorial powers, he should receive those powers so that he can do a better job.

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