I don't know how, but eventually we arrive at the great unspoken. "See, I believe we're in an ideological struggle with extremism," says the President. "These people prey on the hopeless. Hopelessness breeds terrorism. That's why this trip is a mission undertaken with the deepest sense of humanity, because those other folks will just use vulnerable people for evil. Like in Iraq."It's almost touching the degree to which Bush can only defend his policy in the longview, as if he's lost faith in the present. Geldof is right to promote the only international policy for which history will remember Bush (and Bono) without horror: quadrupling the amount of U.S. aid to AIDS-ravaged sub-Saharan Africa.
I don't want to go there. I have my views and they're at odds with his, and I don't want to spoil the interview or be rude in the face of his hospitality. "Ah, look Mr. President. I don't want to do this really. We'll get distracted and I'm here to do Africa with you." "OK, but we got rid of tyranny." It sounded like the television Bush. It sounded too justificatory, and he doesn't ever have to justify his Africa policy. This is the person who has quadrupled aid to the poorest people on the planet. I was more comfortable with that. But his expression asked for agreement and sympathy, and I couldn't provide either.
"Mr. President, please. There are things you've done I could never possibly agree with and there are things I've done in my life that you would disapprove of, too. And that would make your hospitality awkward. The cost has been too much. History will play itself out." "I think history will prove me right," he shoots back. "Who knows," I say.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
This is the best recent interview of George W. Bush I've read, especially surprising considering its source. Written after the President's tour of Afrida a couple of weeks ago, Bob Geldof is an interlocutor of surpassing modesty; he is scrupulous about observing the laws of hospitality, stays mum on Iraq, and remembers that he once sported hair as offensive aesthetically as Bush's Iraq policy was geopolitically. This Bush is chatty, cheerful, immodest, insulated, and a little stupid:
Posted by Alfred Soto at 7:03 PM