Having it both ways, pt 2

With the latest news from Iraq that the twisted and evil sons of Saddam were killed by US forces, the response from many leftists has been scorn and conspiracy theorizing- that somehow "Bush Knew", and waited until his poll numbers were down to off the gruesome twosome.

Setting aside the obvious logical objection --that if Bush needed a poll boost and knew about the sons beforehand, wouldn't he have killed them/apprehended them earlier, to prevent a poll slide in the first place-- Joe Kelley points out that the critics of Bush want to have it both ways again, and that it is highly amusing:

What I find particularly amusing about these theories is that they are, no doubt, spread by people who are certain that George W. Bush is an utter idiot, yet he?s brilliant enough to coordinate the timing of healing bones and flesh with the release of a 9/11 report and a report on Patriot Act abuses.

I wondered about that myself earlier, but now I think I know why (or at least how) the Bush critics can get away with what is (to the libertarian or conservative mind) essentially doublethink.

If one believes that government is omnicapable and omnicompetent, then even a completely evil doofus can pull off nefarious and oh-so-convenient plans when they want to, and think about it. In this scenario, the super powers of government are always there and ready to accomplish anything that the political will desires, so an evil doofus can still do stupid things, but anything that happens right (or is convenient) can also, simultaneously, be the workings of a "mastermind"- since the mastermind is government, not the individual (gotta think collectively, yo). The government is competent, Bush is a smirking chimp, but even infinite monkeys can write Shakespeare.

Which, if you think about it, explains some of the seemingly irrational criticism of Bush by the illiberal left- such as Brad DeLong complaining that Bush, ala Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, could have stopped the recession all along if he really wanted to with some expertly applied short-term real stimulus. Because the state can do everything, and do it correctly, so long as expert planning is involved...

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