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Someone's fault, right?

OK. this post is just beyond the pale.

The backstory: Kelley Ferguson is a stupid idiot who faked a terrorist threat in order to get out of a cruise with her parents. Missed her boyfriend. Totally stupid.

But how do you get from there to blaming Bush? “And many people, wavering between fear of the unknown and the all too casual attittude eminating from the White House, can treat a terrorist attack as a prank.”

I don’t think Bush is doing a good job setting the national mood on terrorism. The aftereffects of Gulf War II are going to matter; people can’t help but notice the lack of WMDs in Iraq and the recent Al Qaeda bombings will erode trust. Bush said that regime change would reduce terrorist threats, and that clearly hasn’t happened.

A digression: the last wave of Al Qaeda attacks came while we were debating the wisdom of war on Iraq. I said at the time that I suspected Osama wanted the US attacking Iraq. I think recent events make that even more likely; psychologically, he’s demonstrating that all that US effort (which was encouraged by the October 2002 incidents) didn’t stop him. And, come to think of it, the chances that Iraq will be run by Islamic extremists are somewhat higher (not a lot, but a little) than they were before the war — Osama’s gotten rid of his rival Saddam at very little cost to himself. Nice work. Sigh.

Back to the point. Bush is not doing a good job of anything except making us feel tough. However, you can’t bloody well blame Kelley Ferguson on that. She has parents, does she not? They are presumably not deaf and dumb; presumably they have occasional communications with their daughter, if she’s going on a cruise with them.

So how about we stop pointing fingers at the Administration, and start taking some responsibility for our own actions? Her parents fucked up. They did a bad job raising her. It is not OK to — permit the metaphor — make jokes about guns when you’re boarding a plane. I learned that lesson as a kid, and I learned it while Reagan was President. Somehow my parents managed to shield me from the awful consequences of a Republican President and taught me some common sense, miracle of miracles.

Blaming Bush for bad parenting is inane, and it speaks to one of the sadder tropes of the left wing in this country. Personal relationships have far more of an effect on children and our morals than what the government says, and individuals are not helpless. We do ourselves a disservice when we pretend otherwise, particularly when it’s for partisan reasons.


  1. She’s 20? And this is all her parents’ fault? I mean, I guess I just didn’t realize parenting was such an exact science that we can, absent any evidence that her parents did something wrong, blame all a child’s successes and failures on good or bad parenting.

    She made three errors in judgment – she decided to do something immoral, she thought she could get away with it, and she thought it would have a totally unrealist effect. So… She’s immoral, she’s a really bad con artist, and she doesn’t have a good grasp of cause and effect. I haven’t seen any evidence that there’s a particular method of parenting that’s guaranteed to produce moral children. Being a bad con artist sounds like good parenting to me – I’ve never thought “Man, my parents screwed up – I’m such a lousy liar.” I guess maybe you can blame them for the whole “being an idiot” thing, but we don’t generally blame people for bringing up non-criminal idiots, even if they go on to become President.

  2. Well, no; obviously it’s partially her fault. But yeah, I am kind of in favor of parents taking some responsibility for the kids. Note also that her mother’s decision was to let the state deal with it; while I can understand the impulse, I’m suspicious of the motivations.

    Also, there’s a line somewhere between minors and adults. If a baby’s crying in a movie theater, I don’t blame the baby. If a thirty year old robs a store, I don’t blame his parents. But if a twenty year old is enough of a spoiled brat to screw up an entire cruise like that?

    Yeah, she made the decision — and in the end it’s her fault — but I think the parents probably had more to do with the reasons she turned out that way than did President Bush.

  3. I guess I just draw the line a lot earlier than you do. I agree that it’s likely the parents could have done a better job raising their child, but at the same time I’ve seen a lot of parents do what appears to be a very good job, only to produce a criminal. Absent accepted scientific literature that says, “These are the things you must do to produce moral offspring,” I’m willing to forgive parents for the actions of their children once those children reach the age of majority and are no longer subject to their parents’ dominion.

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