President A-Hole

Ken AshfordBush & Co., Environment & Global Warming & EnergyLeave a Comment

You know, it’s not just that he’s wrong; it’s that he’s arrogantly wrong.  Proud of it.

Read this:

President George Bush signed off with a defiant farewell over his refusal to accept global climate change targets at his last G8 summit.

As he prepared to fly out from Japan, he told his fellow leaders: "Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter."

President Bush made the private joke in the summit’s closing session, senior sources said yesterday. His remarks were taken as a two-fingered salute from the President from Texas who is wedded to the oil industry.

Now, this is from the British journal, The Independent, so keep in mind that the "two-fingered salute" is the Brit equivalent of the "one-fingered salute" in our country.

In other words, President was snotty and snide about our country being the world’s biggest polluter, and world leaders at the G8 correctly understood his comment to be snotty and snide.

Six more months of this doofus.

UPDATE  Hilzoy weighs in

In a sane world, no diplomat would care about such things as: the shape of the table used in negotiations, whether they personally are treated with basic respect, etc. But we do not live in that world. We live in a world populated by human beings with egos. And that creates a wonderful opportunity: to get things we want not by conceding anything of real importance, but just by listening earnestly when the Minister of Whatnot wants to tell us about his grandkids, or by holding the door for His Excellency, or — who knows? — by not giving one’s rival leaders "the verbal equivalent of a kick in the nuts."

Giving up that opportunity is just dumb, if you care about whatever it is that you’re trying to get other countries to agree with.

But what’s even dumber is to make other countries so annoyed at you that they don’t agree to deals they might otherwise sign on to, just because you’ve been such a jerk. If you do that, you’re not just failing to get potential freebies; you’re giving up real successes for no reason at all. Again, imagine the counterpart from normal life. Suppose you were engaged in a complicated contract negotiation, and it turned out that your lawyer just couldn’t keep herself from telling the other negotiators what total assh*les and idiots they were. She might be right. And you might feel tempted, for a moment, to think: good for you! that’s telling them! But that moment would pass, and when it did, you’d either sit her down for a long stern talk or fire her. Because she’s endangering your prospects for success for no good reason.

Obviously, there are moments when you have to blow up, and when blowing up can be productive. But the G-8 meeting was not one of them. Moreover, when losing your temper works in negotiations, its working generally depends on its being rare, and on other people believing that it’s not calculated. When a normally self-controlled and decent person blows up, it can, under the right circumstances, be a salutory shock. But if it’s your standard operating procedure, you’re just a jerk.

When I read people saying things like "More please", or "Horray!", I think: these are people who are willing to sacrifice our success in actually getting what we want for some short-term emotional gratification (and pretty dubious emotional gratification at that.) Why they would think that it’s a good idea is completely beyond me. It’s like discovering that a car dealer can be induced to give you a free car if only you gratify her ego, and thinking not: Wow! How wonderful! but: Why the hell should I cater to her psychological needs? (To get a car without paying for it, silly!)

Except that in this case, it’s not the diplomat (or President) who would get the car; it’s all of us.