Saturday, May 07, 2005

Fun with Quotes

I've come across some more funny quotes. This one is from Doug Feith, who, among other exploits, brought us the Iraq war as it stands and not as it could be. As one measure of his abilities, Tommy Franks called Feith, "The fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth." Now Franks is probably using hyperbole. Some of Franks own soldiers may be less cognitively able than Feith. Obviously the soldiers who have sustained blunt or penetrating head traumas in Iraq (thanks in part to you know who) have acquired a level of stupidity that Feith cannot reach. Feith is not the stupidest guy on earth. Feith, however, is a deeply stupid person.

Feith's stupidity is unlike those with neurological disorders. Those people have insight, which is also devastating when it feeds their frustration. Feith's stupidity is combined with an utter lack of insight. This is what makes him so dangerous. He doesn't have the wisdom to see that he really doesn't understand it all, that the chain of events he set into motion is not predictable. He is the idiot child, and we all knew them, who memorized Einstein's equations and believed he understood them simply because he could reproduce them.

He reveals this lack of true understanding in nearly every quotation, stating in the last New Yorker, convincingly arguing against the straw man of mindless pacifism by invoking Hitler, "When I took all these nice-sounding ideas and compared them to my own little personal 'Cogito, ergo sum,' which was my understanding that my family got wiped out by Hitler." So his center piece of data, the one that informs and serves as the base for all other thought is the fact that his family was killed in the Holocaust? Hum... It's not difficult to see that he sees Islam as modern day Nazism in not only an analogous manner, but as the same sort of foe. Dangerous comparisons, if only because they are absurd.

His lack of intelligence and thought also makes him interesting and useful, because it prevents him from being anything but candid when surprised. For instance, Mr. Goldberg, as reported in his excellent New Yorker article, asks Feith if his admiration of Lincoln was in part due to the fact that Lincoln changed the reasons to go to war in the middle of the struggle, Feith responded, "I never thought of that. That's right."

What a startling admission! One would think that he'd have the intelligence to dismiss this thought, but no, he embraces it! And by embracing it, Feith obtains a curious title: the only intellectually honest person under Bush.

Of course, a moment of intellectual honesty, which was due to his stupidity, does not make him honest in other areas. He has the rare gift of automatic doublethink. During the lead up to the war, he said "Would anybody be thinking about using military power in Iraq in order to do a political experiment in Iraq in the hope that it would have positive political spillover effects throughout the region? The answer is no... What we would be using military power for, if we have to, would be the goals the President has talked about, particularly the elimination of the chemical and biological weapons, and preventing Iraq from getting nuclear weapons."

(One can appreciate Feith's stupidity by simply looking at his sentence structures. This is a man who spends all day with books, polishing his arguments. And yet he comes out with clunkers like "In Iraq in order...in Iraq in the hope." Stupid.)

In the same interview he had said, "When you can think that if we do things right, and if we help the Iraqis... will that have beneficial spillover effects on the politics of the whole region? The answer, I think, is yes." This is a statement, of which he says now, "That was right on the nose."

This is clearly a deeply stupid man. And more than stupid - he is literally thoughtless. Thoughtless in the sense that he does not think about examples of his own idiocy. He will never learn from mistakes of this type, because he does not even think about them. From this, one would predict he would be a failure at almost any type of human endeavor. I predict great things for him within the Bush administration: one can imagine he will ascend high.