Interesting Whiskey Bar meditation on George Bush (aka Shrub in this context)…
When [Isaiah] Berlin divided writers and thinkers (which leaves Shrub out) and human beings in general (I suppose we have to include him) into two categories — the hedgehogs and the foxes — he didn’t mean for either label to be taken pejoratively. After all, his list of hedgehogs included Dante, Plato, Dostoevsky and Proust, while Shakespeare, Aristotle and Erasmus were among his foxes.
What Berlin meant, I think, is that hedgehogs try to integrate all of their experiences and thoughts into a single, overarching concept of life and their place in it, while foxes, as he put it, have ideas about the world “without . . . seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision.”
At this point, I would say Shrub is acting like a hedgehog on hallucinogens. His one big integrative idea — exporting American-style “democracy” to Iraq at the point of a gun — has proven fatally, disasterously wrong, but he can’t let go of it, because it’s the only idea he’s got. He’s fully vested in it, like a ’90s e-trader who decided to throw caution to the wind, empty his retirement account and bet it all on pets.com.
I think if Shrub were ever forced to let go of his vision, his one big idea, it would not only crush his fragile ego, it would leave him completely incapable of making any sense at all out of his presidency, out of America’s role in the Middle East, out of the universe.
So now he’s imitating the hedgehog as literally as any human being can — he’s rolled himself up into a defensive ball, spines out. He has nothing useful to say and absolutely no strategy beyond hunkering down and passively defying reality. Which leaves the generals and the troops no choice but to hunker down with him.
The next two and a half years are going to be very long ones…