Uncurious George Home Page

Uncurious George

Issues | Citations | Links | About us

Explained | Dishonorable Mentions | Other Georges | Uncurious media

Citations of George W. Bush as Uncurious, Explained

Web pages linked here all describe George W. Bush as uncurious, even if they don't use that exact word.
Listed newest to oldest.

2007 | Apr–Dec 2006 | Jan–Mar 2006 | 2005
Oct–Dec 2004 | July–Sep 2004 | May–June 2004 | April 2004 | March 2004 | February 2004 | January 2004
Oct–Dec 2003 | Jul–Sep 2003 | Jan–Jun 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 and earlier

This page: 2005: Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul | Jun | May | Mar | Feb | Jan

December 2005

The Des Moines Register
Congress exercises some oversight, finally
Next year: Find more backbone, tackle deficit.
December 24, 2005
Congress lacks curiosity about administration's biggest failure and hegemony.

The fact that the executive and legislative branches are controlled by the same party does not excuse Congress from its oversight duties. Yet this Congress has shown an astonishing lack of curiosity on a whole range of things it should be curious about, such as no-bid contracts, mistakes in the conduct of the war in Iraq and unprecedented aggregation of executive power.

BELLACIAO - Bush Is Consistent - peter fredsib - Collective Bellaciao
Bush Is Consistent
G.W.B’s Consistency
By Peter Fredson
December 21, 2005

Say what you will about George W. Bush, he is remarkably consistent. Of course he is remarkably wrong, but that does not affect his dogmatism. His indoctrination into dogma by American fundamentalists probably is responsible for his determination to “stick to a course” even if it is wrong.

He has a simplistic view of reality, confined to dull and hazy black and white tones, good vs. evil mentality imparted to him by people who believe in angels, devils, hell, heaven, and Satan to a ferocious degree. This is what “dogma” implies. It is aided by faith in things unknown, of such certainty that it becomes absolute. This makes any other view untenable, wrong, or simply evil obstinacy.

For a person of limited horizons it is comforting to know that you are right and every one else is wrong. For Bush, who is as incurious as anyone can be, it circumscribes his life, informs his every decision, and results in steadfast resolution. That, and advice from similarly dogmatic advisors, is sufficient unto the day.

The result is an imperial disdain for all contrary opinion, and a rage against criticism as being morally wrong toward a person doing his best to obey absolutely divine instructions.

Foreign Affairs - Writing of Wrongs - Lawrence D. Freedman
Writing of Wrongs
Lawrence D. Freedman
From Foreign Affairs, January/February 2006
The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. George Packer. : Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005, 467 pp. $26.00
Lawrence D. Freedman is Professor of War Studies at King's College, London.
First observed by uncuriousgeorge.org on December 20, 2005

As the brief meeting ended, Packer reports, the president joked, "You want to do Iran for the next one?" "No, sir," Garner replied, "me and the boys are holding out for Cuba." The vice president had said nothing, and as Garner left the room, Packer writes, "he caught Cheney's wicked little smile." Garner concluded from the episode that "Bush knew only what Cheney let into his office."

This is by no means Packer's most depressing story, but it is one of the more chilling ones. It points to Cheney as the evil genius behind the war (a belief that is now almost received wisdom) and suggests the condition that made Cheney's influence possible: Bush's chronic lack of curiosity even about matters dealing with the greatest gamble of his presidency. The account reveals Bush's readiness to live, along with his advisers, in a make-believe world removed from the dead-serious business they set in motion. Bush's insouciance created the space in which Cheney and Rumsfeld could operate; part of Packer's account is about the two men's efforts to deny others entry into this space. . . .

Not only did Bush administration officials give little forethought to the difficulties Iraq might face after the war; it did not want others to reflect on those issues any more than they did for fear that such attention might undermine the claim that a short, decisive victory could be achieved with remarkably few troops. It suited the White House to take at face value assertions from Iraqi exiles that solving postwar problems would be relatively straightforward.

Attytood: Incurious George's fuzzy math on Iraq civilian war dead
Posted on December 13, 2005 11:03 AM

When the president of the United States is an incurious and often openly anti-intellectual man, it tends to wreak havoc on our expectations -- and thus on our interpretation of some of the things he says. . . .

The real news is that Bush has no idea how many Iraqis have died -- even though it's the most important human impact, along with our own casualties, of his most important policy decision in five years as president. We the taxpayers are spending $275 billion and counting on waging war in Iraq, and yet not one dime has been spent on determining the collateral damage of this action. Instead, the leader of the free world has to throw out the best guestimate from a Web site doing yeoman's work in the face of obfuscation from Bush's own military and government.

Politically, it's not hard to understand why the Bush administration doesn't want to take a closer look at the human cost of the war. After all, if it's true that 10,000 civilians -- the majority of them non-combatants -- have been killed each year, or roughly similar to the estimated rate of civilians killed by Saddam -- then that might undercut yet one more argument for sending off U.S. troops to fight this unaccomplished mission.

Sadly, it reminds us of the same disregard for human life that caused the government to stop searching New Orleans even as scores of bodies continued to rot in the flood zone, as a White House aide confessed that Katrina had quickly dropped off the radar screen.

The Bard Observer
Sat, Dec 10, 2005
US Torture Policy
As deciphered by Professor Mark Danner
This is just barely an explained usage. Implicitly, Bush is incurious about U.S. use of torture.

SW [Sasha Winters]: Does President Bush believe this [that the U.S. doesn't torture]?

MD [Mark Danner]: [laughing] It’s hard to say what President Bush believes. It’s possible. He may believe that stuff is necessary, that it’s humane, and that people who say that we torture are just human rights zealots—that’s possible, but I just don’t know. At times he seems very incurious. I think it’s hard to make a judgment on that.

November 2005

Hughes for America: A dangerous lack of curiosity
11/21/2005 at 06:37 PM

I'm embarrassed that these clowns represent America overseas. From the Washington Post: [In Japan, South Korea and China, Bush visited no museums, tried no restaurants, bought no souvenirs and made no effort to meet ordinary local people.]

The Kvetch: A Most Uncurious Administration
Monday, November 21, 2005
posted by Peter at 7:24 AM

Here's an interesting tidbit from a Washington Post story about Bush's trip to China: [Bush and administration officials did not take the opportunity to experience other cultures.]

firedoglake: Incurious George
Monday, November 21, 2005
Incurious George
Also linked from Links: Primates because of the image of a book cover titled "Incurious George Goes to a Costume Party" with George W. Bush as the monkey dressed in a flight suit.

Thank goodness they finally let Incurious George ride his bike. All those meetings and discussions on policy and stuff were making him downright cranky.

[Exceprt from Washington Post article omitted here.]

Let me get this straight. You are in Japan, Korea, China and other interesting Asian nations, where cuisine is a high art. And you eat at an Outback Steakhouse. Twice?!?

No museums. No cultural events that aren't forced upon you by protocol with other world leaders. Nothing outside your comfort zone bubble.

American Prospect Online - Woodward’s Work
Woodward’s Work
We were on to this guy's act a long time ago. Here, a review of his book, “Plan of Attack,” from our June 7, 2004, issue. [Also cited by uncuriousgeorge.org.]
By Robert Kuttner
Web Exclusive: 11.21.05

As in his first hagiography, Bush at War, Woodward chooses to paint this president as a resolute and decisive leader, one who listens carefully to differing views among his cabinet and then makes astute choices. A more skeptical reporter could have taken the same raw material and emphasized that Bush doesn't read, has little curiosity about the complexities of foreign affairs, is easily manipulated, looks for "facts" that fit his preconceptions; not surprisingly, his policy turns out to be a disastrous blunder.

Newsday.com Senate mood shows end of Bush's war has begun
James Klurfeld
November 18, 2005

The great and foolish gamble that Bush took in Iraq was that he could invade that country and then find a way to govern it without great sacrifice from the American people. Maybe he actually believed that once the troops reached Baghdad it would be easy, that the centuries-old tensions between Sunnis and Shias and Kurds would just dissolve. Maybe he actually believed that within a year or 18 months, things would stabilize, and the American forces could be significantly drawn down. Indeed, the forces sent there were, from the start, far fewer than many military people said were necessary to stabilize the country.

Clearly, this uncurious president had not learned the one lesson from the Vietnam War that might actually have applied to Iraq: that if you don't have the support of the American people, you cannot sustain a war effort. By acting on what was the best-case scenario - some would call it a fantasy - Bush was setting himself up for a terrible fall if things turned out to be worse.

An Age Like This
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
What Does Bush Believe?
posted by Susan @ 07:36
Uncuriousgeorge.org took the liberty of quoting this short posting in its entirety.

While a lot of people are shaking their heads at Bush's claim that the US does not torture, the more important question is this: what does Bush really believe? Was he lying knowingly? Or does he believe that we do not torture because that's what he's been told?

Bush is damned on a large number of counts, but lying at the root of many of them is his sloth and incuriosity. Bush can find two hours in his short workday for exercise, but he can't find five minutes to glance at CNN or flip through a newspaper. While Cheney and the equally evil men around him drive the United States down the road of permanent disrepute and hatred, Bush is a passenger sitting in the back watching Monsters Inc. on the dvd player.

The Price Of Loyalty - Newsweek National News - MSNBC.com
The consequences of a bias for loyalty over debate have been devastating. Issues don't get aired; downside risks remain unassessed.
By Jonathan Alter
Nov. 7, 2005 issue
First observed by uncuriousgeorge.org on October 29, 2005. Also appeared in the Southwest Florida News Press November 2 as When president has no plan, he should be told.

But the consequences of a bias for loyalty over debate—even internal debate—have been devastating. The same president who seeks democracy, transparency and dissent in Iraq is irritated by it at home. O'Neill tells his story in a book by Ron Suskind called "The Price of Loyalty," and that title is the missing link in explaining the failure of the Bush presidency. The price of loyalty is incompetence. Issues don't get aired; downside risks remain unassessed. . . .

Instead of reaching out and encouraging disagreement, Bush let neocons like Libby and Paul Wolfowitz hijack his foreign policy. Amazingly, the pros and cons of invading Iraq were never even debated in the National Security Council. If you had doubts, like Colin Powell, you were marginalized. (Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, said last week that a "cabal" of isolated policymakers ran a government of dangerous "ineptitude.") Consider the case of Brent Scowcroft. According to last week's New Yorker, former president Bush has tried to arrange a meeting between his old national-security adviser (and best friend) and his son. But after Scowcroft wrote a 2002 op-ed piece titled "Don't Attack Saddam," the president has consistently refused his own father's request. Now we know that Bush's lack of curiosity has proved fatal.

11/2/2005 1:36:45 PM
The Definition Of Insanity
By carla
This piece excerpts Jonathan Alter's Nov. 7, 2005, piece, "The Price of Loyalty."

To prop Bush up as this lone patriotic figure is a feat indeed. A man without curiosity or a breadth of intellectuality is a tough sell. Absolute loyalty and lockstep message control has to take place.

And in the meantime anyone who speaks up is an unAmerican, unpatriotic, yellow-bellied leech who is sucking off the very teat of the freedom provided to them by the Cowboy-in-Chief.

October 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/31/2005 | Gail Shister | Bush breaks Wallace's string of presidential interviews
Posted on Mon, Oct. 31, 2005

"It's a strange, secretive White House. The President doesn't read newspapers or watch news, and he's proud of it. Everything is filtered through what his aides want him to know. He's apparently an incurious man." [said 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace.]

The Korea Herald : The Nation's No.1 English Newspaper
The Korea Herald
Monday, October 10, 105 [sic, actually 2005]
[Guest Column] For Bush, government is a hobby
by Doug Bandow
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He served as a special assistant to President Reagan. - Ed.
Also published in the Japan Times October 18, 2005 as Miers pick reflects Bush's flaky nature. This piece is striking for its criticism of Bush; saying from a libertarian-conservative point of view many of the same things that liberals have been saying all along. Read the whole thing!

President Bush's judgment cannot be trusted. . . .

Iraq is an even more spectacular example. Decide on a policy of war, while discouraging anyone offering evidence contradicting the existence of Iraqi WMDs. Fail to plan for the most obvious contingencies, such as an insurgency. Ignore the most basic details, such as outfitting troops with body armor and armored vehicles. Refuse to acknowledge mistakes and promote the people who committed the most blunders. . . .

George W. Bush is not a bad person. But he's a bad decision-maker: intellectually uncurious and seriously unread.

Emotionally he remains a cocky collegiate jock, sure of his own decisions and quick to consider opposition the equivalent of disloyalty. Finally, he is unwilling to reflect on past decisions, acknowledge mistakes, or hold people accountable.

The subject is irrelevant. He doesn't have good information, choose good people, recognize why he might be making a bad decision, and reconsider obvious mistakes in the light of experience.

The Blog | Sherman Yellen: Can a Man Become President? | The Huffington Post

George Bush can never flip flop. He cannot change his mind, because it is a lazy mind, incapable of the activity required for flip flopping which can be a wrenching experience. Between the flip and the flop is a lot of mental and moral activity. He is far from stupid, but lacks that curiosity which allows for growth and change. By "sticking to his guns" he thinks he is acting as a man should act, standing by his principles, while in fact all he demonstrates is his inability to tolerate change and the weakness of those principles.

TPMCafe || The President's Small World
Supreme Court Table
The President's Small World
By AmericanDreamer
Oct 05, 2005 -- 05:10:29 PM EST

I see the response as symptomatic of the biggest single source of Bush's problems as president: his lack of curiosity about the larger world outside his bubble.  Especially under duress as he is right now he goes with who he or his closest associates trusts.  His ability to trust is limited to those he knows well--individuals who, unfortunately for most of us, have often tended to be venal, incompetent, corrupt or some rich and creative combination of these. . . .

He just doesn't have the mindset to imagine that perhaps the best person for the job is someone he has never met, someone he does not know at all. He calls it picking people on the basis of character; I think it's an inherently limiting way of conducting the business of the people. When it comes to George Bush, if you aren't part of his circle, if you've never met the man, you're simply not in the running for a top job.

September 2005

PACKETONLINE News Classifieds Entertainment Business - Princeton and Central New Jersey - The Princeton Packet - 09/20/2005 - 'We the People'
by: Rachel Silverman, Staff Writer
National Constitution Day celebrates 'ingenious' document
Rep Rush (D-NJ) addressed an audience of eighth graders at John Witherspoon Middle School, Princeton, NJ, Friday Sept. 16, 2005, National Constitution Day.

During the question-and-answer session that followed, Rep. Holt voiced his opinions on some other critical — and timely — national issues.
   Asked about President George W. Bush, the congressman described the president as a "likable" yet "incurious" leader.
   "He doesn't spend enough time trying to think about and understand things he's not already familiar with," Rep. Holt said. "He spends less time thinking about those who are weak and poor. The people he associates with are not — they are rich and strong."
   The president's response to Hurricane Katrina reflected this blind spot, Rep. Holt said.
   "As a country, we were letting people starve," he said. "We weren't providing help to people in a timely fashion.
   "My own sister spent six days in New Orleans isolated without power," the congressman said.
   Rep. Holt also criticized the president's decision to invade Iraq.
   "I'm not optimistic about it," the congressman told the packed auditorium. "It is very hard to bring democracy to someone at the end of a gun."

Art of deception is so refined that we're all in deep doo doo
San Francisco Chronicle
by Steven Winn
Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tuesday's "I take responsibility" speech was patent damage control for a president in a ratings meltdown. Bush's fabled incuriosity about the world has become a defining mode of governance. The truth isn't the enemy; it's just an irrelevant distraction to staying on an upbeat message.

A Fatal Incuriosity - New York Times
A Fatal Incuriosity
Published: September 14, 2005
This item was picked up by thousands of websites, and appeared in dozens of newspapers, including Houston Chronicle, International Herald Tribune, Akron Beacon Journal, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), Tallahassee Democrat (FL), Press Telegram (Long Beach, CA), Duluth News Tribune, Argus (Fremont CA), Helena Independent Record (MT), San Gabriel Valley Tribune (CA), Whittier Daily News (CA), Pasadena Star-News (CA), and Grand Forks Herald (ND).

Given that the Bush team has dealt with both gulf crises, Iraq and Katrina, with the same deadly mixture of arrogance and incompetence, and a refusal to face reality, it's frightening to think how it will handle the most demanding act of government domestic investment since the New Deal.

Even though we know W. likes to be in his bubble with his feather pillow, the stories this week are breathtaking about the lengths the White House staff had to go to in order to capture Incurious George's attention.

Newsweek reported that the reality of Katrina did not sink in for the president until days after the levees broke, turning New Orleans into a watery grave. It took a virtual intervention of his top aides to make W. watch the news about the worst natural disaster in a century. Dan Bartlett made a DVD of newscasts on the hurricane to show the president on Friday morning as he flew down to the Gulf Coast.

Three Wise Men: Bush's Bubble
posted by Xanthippas @ 9/14/2005 09:55:00 AM

That Bush is largely a self-isolated president more interested in loyalty then plain truth(which can be equated as dissent and thus disloyalty)became clearer and clearer throughout his first term. But it has never been as obvious as it was when Katrina struck. Bush,though aware that New Orleans was rapidly flooding, seemed unaware of the scale of the devestation that was about to be wreaked upon the city. And the largely uncurious Bush, instead of trying to get a handle on the situation, went to bed early that Tuesday night(as reported in the Newsweek article) and continued the next day with his plans to give a speech on Iraq.

A full examination of a presidency by historians is never really possible until the president leaves office and his subordinates begin to feel free to talk and presidential papers become more and more available. But it is not to early to say that Bush's isolation has been a hallmark of his administration, and one that has proven deletorious not only to his legacy, but to the nation as a whole.

Niagara Falls Reporter Opinion
By Bill Gallagher
Sept. 13 2005

The disastrous management of the disaster underscores another great truth: George W. Bush is a horrible manager, incapable of handling all matters great and small. He thinks in absolutes and believes he's infallible. His decisions are not fact-based, but visceral. He is arrogant, inattentive, incurious, impatient and intellectually lazy. He surrounds himself with people who tell him just what he wants to hear. Bush does not tolerate dissension or contrary views.

How Bush Blew It - Newsweek Hurricane Katrina Coverage - MSNBC.com
How Bush Blew It
Bureaucratic timidity. Bad phone lines. And a failure of imagination. Why the government was so slow to respond to catastrophe.
By Evan Thomas
Sept. 19, 2005 issue
First observed by uncuriousgeorge.org Sept. 12, 2005. Despite the seemingly partisan flavor of these excerpts, this article spreads blame around.

President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. . . .

Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. . . .

The government's response to Katrina—like the failure to anticipate that terrorists would fly into buildings on 9/11—was a failure of imagination.

CNN.com - After New Orleans, will it be we or me?
Monday, September 12, 2005; Posted: 3:33 p.m. EDT (19:33 GMT)
by Mark Shields
Quote: After New Orleans, the poor can no longer be invisible.

In the enduring American tragedy of New Orleans, President George W. Bush has been libeled.

The foul charge, as untrue as it is unjust, has been made that he is a racist. George Bush is most definitely not a racist.

He is, however, isolated -- and he may be almost criminally uncurious. Proud of the fact that he neither reads daily newspapers nor watches television news, the president has never publicly questioned why in 2004 -- the third full year of the national economic recovery -- the number of Americans living in poverty had increased from 32.9 million to 37 million, or why 45.8 million of his fellow citizens -- 6 million more than in 2000 -- were uninsured.

The Carpetbagger Report » Blog Archive » A dangerous and ever-growing bubble
September 12, 2005

There have been any number of excellent articles published in recent days offering detailed step-by-stop reports on how the government responded to Hurricane Katrina. I'm partial to Evan Thomas' piece in Newsweek [cited above on this page], however, because it touches on the underlying problem that affects everything the White House does: Bush's bubble.

When did the president realize the scope and breadth of the Katrina crisis? Was it before the storm hit, when he was briefed by the NOAA? How maybe when Gov. Blanco declared a state of emergency? Or when horrific images started appearing on national television on Monday and Tuesday of that fateful week?

No, things began to "sink in" for Bush a couple of days later when Dan Bartlett put together an easy-to-understand video montage for him on a DVD. . . .

It's bad enough that Bush lives in a bubble, never speaking to or hearing from anyone with whom he might disagree, but when the walls of that bubble are so impenetrable that he doesn't even know about the devastation affecting a major American city, one has to wonder if the man is even fit for his office.

I realize that not everyone has an innate intellectual curiosity, but Newsweek noted that Bush's exposure to the outside world mainly consists of "an hour or two of ESPN here and there." . . . Bush has said that he receives regular briefings from his staff, keeping him apprised of things he needs to know. And . . . those same staffers have come to a revelation: they shouldn't tell Bush things he doesn't want to hear. . . .

Bush, in other words, has created a culture of ignorance within his White House. He doesn't get information from independent sources, he doesn't hear concerns from his non-sycophantic constituents, and he's made it quite clear to his own aides that he doesn't want to hear information that might irritate, upset, or confuse him. The bubble's walls are high and impenetrable — protecting the simpleton inside from the burdens of reality.

The unfeeling president should be impeached
Online Journal
By Carla Binion
Online Journal Associate Editor
September 10, 2005

All Americans who voted for Bush, and those in Congress and the mainstream media who have placed confidence in his leadership, should remember this fact: The signs were there all along that this man didn't have the mental acumen or depth needed to lead the country.

People laughed when warned Bush would only serve as an ill-informed figurehead, delegating all responsibility to others. It turns out the president isn't even good at delegating, considering, for example, the performance of his delegated head of FEMA. Many media pundits insisted Bush's incurious nature and his failure to read widely or reflect deeply wouldn't be necessary in a president. However, a better informed, more thoughtful leader might have heeded the disaster warnings and acted quickly to save thousands of lives. . . .

As E. L. Doctorow wrote, ... "This president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. . . . He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn . . . To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing.

Our Moral Culture Was Breached, Too (5 Letters) - New York Times
Letters to the Editor
Published: September 8, 2005
This letter accuses the entire moral culture of uncuriosity, but its prime example is "official ignorance," which, of course, starts at the top with uncurious George W. Bush.

To the Editor: . . .

Isn't it this moral culture that permitted official ignorance of suffering Americans in the New Orleans Superdome even when images of that suffering were plastered over TV screens worldwide? Isn't it this moral culture that knows only what it wants to know, and isn't it this moral culture that has forgotten the first, best lesson about loving our neighbor? . . .

Joyce Adams
Portland, Ore., Sept. 4, 2005

Swing State Project: Katrina Proves Bush Failed New Orleans
Posted by: piedmontese at September 8, 2005 12:41 AM

Bush's academic career was completely undistinguished. But what makes him remarkable to me at least is his utter lack of curiosity about the world, then and now.

While his father had all those diplomatic posts, in China, the CIA, the UN, etc., he never once left the US to visit other nations. Compare that to another indifferent scholar, JFK, and you will see the difference.

This lack of curiosity by a president is truly unfortunate. He is, basically, medieval. Like a lot of substance abusers, he latches onto something (in this case born-again Christianity) because it offers him stability and certainty in a bewildering world.

Nuance and shades of gray are a tall order for him to handle.

BELLACIAO - Bush’s Death Tax - Wayne Besen - Collective Bellaciao
Wednesday 7th September 2005
by Wayne Besen

In a feeble attempt to seek absolution from culpability, Bush pleaded ignorance saying, "I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the breach of the levees." Bush brags that he does not read the newspaper. Anyone who does read on a regular basis was likely aware of the catastrophic problems New Orleans faced if it encountered a major hurricane. Instead of writing a check for Hurricane victims, perhaps my money would be better spent buying the president a subscription to The Washington Post. . . .

Having such a privileged background combined with an incurious mind can be lethal. Did Bush know that some people can’t afford cars and must rely on public transportation to escape?

The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town
Issue of 2005-09-12
Posted 2005-09-03
by David Remnick

The President’s incuriosity, his prideful insistence on being an underbriefed “gut player,” is not looking so charming right now, either, if it ever did. In the ABC interview, he said, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”

The Washington Monthly
Political Animal
September 2, 2005
Bush in Biloxi....
Comment to Kevin Drum's blog posting

If JFK, or Nixon, or Carter were president, they would immerse themselves in the crisis, poring over every detail of the rescue operation. If LBJ were president, he would be swearing on the telephone 22 hours a day, demanding decisive action from the military and from civilian rescue agencies. ("Why the $%^%$* aren't your ^%%$%& rescue teams in ^&*&^%$$ New Orleans already?!?", I can imagine him screaming into the receiver.) If Reagan were president (during his first term), his chief of staff James Baker would have been burning the midnight oil to make sure things were done fast and right. Instead, we have this incredibly passive, disengaged guy who seems to approach this challenge without curiosity, intellect, or enthusiasm.

Posted by: Arthur on September 2, 2005 at 3:20 PM

August 2005

Twenty Things We Now Know Four Years After 9/11, by Bernard Weiner - Democratic Underground
August 30, 2005
An excellent summary and enumeration of the failures of the Bush administration. This piece asserts mere speculation as actual fact (that the Bush administration deliberately allowed 9/11 to occur in order to strengthen its hold on power and advance its corrupt and unemocratic agenda). Could be, but unprovable at this time. But again, an excellent summary, well worth reading. Also published on the Bernard Weiner page at BushWatch.

A general assessment before we begin the numbered list: there now is a widely-accepted foreign and domestic judgment that the Bush Administration is composed of bumbling, dangerous, close-minded ideologues. . . .


We know that Bush & Co. made sure that there would be no full-scale, independent investigations of their role in using and abusing the intelligence that led to war on Iraq. . . .


We know from "insider" memoirs and reports by former Bush Administration officials - Joseph DeIulio, Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, et al. - that the public interest plays little role in the formulation of policy inside the Bush Administration. The motivating factors are mainly greed and control and remaining in political power. Further, they say, there is little or no curiosity to think outside the political box, or even to hear other opinions.


We know that this attitude ("my mind is made up, don't bother me with the facts") shows up most openly in how science is disregarded by the Bush Administration (good example: global warming) in favor of faith-based thinking. Some of this non-curiosity about reality may be based in fundamentalist religious, even apocalyptic, beliefs. Much of Bush's bashing of science is designed as payback to his fundamentalist base, but the scary part is that a good share of the time he actually believes what he's saying, about evolution vs. intelligent-design, stem-cell research, abstinence education, censoring the rewriting of government scientific reports that differ from the Bush party line, cutbacks in research & development grants for the National Science Foundation, etc., ad nauseum. This closed-mind attitude helps explain, on a deeper level, why things aren't working out in Iraq. . . .

All aspects of the American polity are infected with the militarist know-nothingism emanating from the top, with governmental and vigilante-type crackdowns on protesters, dissent, free speech, freedom of assembly, etc. happening regularly on both the local and federal levels.

The Memphis Flyer :: the mid-south's news weekly: Viewpoint: Viewpoint: LETTER FROM MEMPHIS
It is “a time to break silence,” Congressman. Or at least stop speaking in tongues.
Kenneth Neill is the publisher/CEO of Contemporary Media, Inc., the parent company of The Memphis Flyer.

The rest of your speech, frankly, was something of an anti-climax. You said much that I agree with; I particularly liked your suggestion that the Bush Administration’s greatest failing, not just in Iraq, but as regards our entire foreign policy in the region, was its over-reliance on military strength and our appalling ignorance of Middle Eastern cultures. But mixed in with your many cogent comments were nonsensical ones, about how Bush's "instincts" had been "right" (they have been consistently wrong) . . . this is a President whose own well-documented incuriosity about Middle Eastern culture – just what you talked about – exactly mirrors Middle America's. This President has proven to be an ineffective leader whose own failure to prepare effectively for a strange new war in a strange old land has already cost tens of thousands of human beings their lives. This is a man who refuses to have a conversation with Cindy Sheehan about why her son died in that war, a man whom much of world regards as a war criminal.

Letters from readers (Expired link)
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Letters from readers
August 6, 2005
First letter to the editor this day appears in full here.

Incurious George

So President Bush believes that the theory of evolution and the notion of intelligent design should be treated equally in schools (Star Tribune, Aug. 3).

Bush is one of the least intelligent presidents we have had, and in regard to scientific topics, one of the least curious. His administration has a well-documented record of suppressing or altering scientific findings that run contrary to his preestablished policies.

Given that he's scientifically illiterate, why would anyone care what Incurious George has to say about evolution?

Lance Groth, Apple Valley

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Jim Lobe on Timing the Cheney Nuclear Drumbeat
Dating Cheney's Nuclear Drumbeat
Framing the Plame Case
By Jim Lobe
August 1, 2005
Jim Lobe is a reporter for the Rome-based international news agency Inter Press Service and has followed the paths of the neocons since the early 1970s. Archive
This is about uncurious Cheney, not uncurious Bush. Reprinted October 26, 2005 in Salon.com as The strange saga of Cheney and the "nuclear threat".

Meanwhile, Cheney, whose initial curiosity [about attempts by Saddam Hussein to acquire nuclear materals and nuclear weapons capability] set off this flurry of travel and reporting, appeared to have lost interest in the results by the time he left on a Middle Eastern trip in mid-March; at least, no information has come to light so far indicating that he ever got back to the CIA or anyone else with further questions or requests on the matter of whether Saddam had actually been in the market for Niger yellowcake uranium ore. Yet, within four days of his return to Washington, there he was on the Sunday TV shows assuring the nation's viewers that Iraq was indeed "actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time."

Did he then acquire new information, perhaps from Iraq's neighbors, during his trip to the Middle East, or had he simply decided by then that the "facts" really had to be "fixed" -- or more precisely in Wilson's case, ignored altogether -- if the American people were to be persuaded that war was the only solution to the problem of Saddam Hussein? In any event, one can only describe his sudden lack of curiosity combined with his public certainty on the subject as, well... curious.

July 2005

Signs of Decline - by Alan Bock
ANTI-WAR.COM July 1, 2005

Presidential Cluelessness

The president's speech on Tuesday suggested not a leader in command of a situation with the dexterity to turn around a setback, but a leader with very little clue about what he needed to do. He . . . lacks imagination and insight when the problems are larger than persuading a precinct captain or state party leader to fall in line. . . .

Presidential Pattern

. . . Yet it is clear that we have in that office the possessor of a third-rate mind who doesn't aspire to intellectual improvement, who views stubbornness in the face of countervailing facts as a virtue rather than a defect, who thinks bravado and empty threats are the equivalent of courage.

That such an intellectual pip-squeak — a frat boy who happened to be born into a family that has been devoted to seeking power for many generations, who equates incuriosity with principle — should not only have ascended to the top but be actively admired by otherwise intelligent people strikes me as a sign of decadence.

June 2005

AlterNet: Keeping it Simple, Stupid
By Stephen Pizzo, AlterNet. Posted June 28, 2005.

[T]here was a single defining fact we knew about George: he's an evangelical. That fact is, and remains, the only thing Americans need to know to understand George W., because it dictates all he is, all he thinks and all he does.

To be evangelical is to banish doubt from your life. . . .

When facts become a problem for evangelicals, they simply dismiss them. If pushed, they attack the offending facts, no matter how nonsensical, absurd, untrue, juvenile or just plain silly their rebuttal has to be.

For those of the evangelical bent, there is always only one [emphasis in original] true way. . . .

George W. Bush is simply "right." And I mean "simply." Maintaining simplicity has been George's salvation. . . .

So here we are, five years after electing un-curious George to the highest office on earth. He has been true to his evangelical mindset, not just in his adherence to his Christian faith, but in his public policies as well. . . .

Global warming, stem cell research, war, Terry Schiavo, evolution -- each are issues about which volumes have, and will, be written. But George W. will not -- cannot -- be moved by a single word. Being saved taught Bush that the key to keeping his personal demons at bay is to narrow the flow of information to a trickle. Establish certainty -- the simpler the certainty, the better. . . .

Here we clearly see the "damn the facts" behavior of the evangelical mind. . . . George is not interested in hearing about other forms of Christianity, or democracy. There is only one right form of both. . . .

So, as the world becomes an increasingly complicated place, expect George W. Bush to keep keeping it simple and "regard-less" of facts.

Bush Is Bright, but He Stays in the Dark
Los Angeles Times
June 16, 2005
Margaret Carlson

The president is smart. He's just not curious, especially when acknowledging the facts would require him to do something. Bush's most stunning lack of curiosity concerns global warming. Bush is always awaiting yet another study to prove a link between greenhouse gases and global warming because the one in his hands isn't good enough. To make sure he didn't get a study that would force him to act, Bush hired Philip Cooney, the former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute. . . .

Bush's allies in industry, with the exception of ExxonMobil, are deserting him, realizing that controls are not only inevitable but, in the long run, efficient. Even the CEO of Chevron likes breathing.

When Bush spokesman Scott McClellan was asked on Wednesday if Cooney's quick move to ExxonMobil didn't suggest the White House had a "shill for the oil industry driving environmental policy," McClellan offered no alternative explanation but denied the charge hotly enough to cause considerable warming in the press room. The White House long ago learned not to let facts slow you down.

Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg Columnists
Bush Says `What, Me Worry?' on Global Warming: Margaret Carlson
June 16, 2005
Discusses the theme of subordinating science to politics. See Science, Climate Change, and Global Warming on this site.

I always wonder if the president really doesn't know things or if he's found ignorance so useful he's made it his strategy of choice. . . .

When his vice president says the insurgency in Iraq is in its last throes, who is Bush going to believe: Dick Cheney or his own eyes? The president is smart. He's just not curious, especially when acknowledging the facts would require him to do something.

Bush's most stunning lack of curiosity concerns global warming. The heat wave this spring, prairie droughts, melting glaciers -- all flukes to him.

May 2005

That's Another Fine Mess
Posted Friday May 20, 2005 at 3:56 pm
by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
This Weblog post calls Mr. Bush "Incurious George" eight times.

In the new Star Wars movie, there comes a moment when Anakin Skywalker, well on the way to becoming Darth Vader, tells Obi-Wan Kenobe that “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.” To which Obi-Wan replies, “Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.”

As does “Incurious George” Bush.

Back in the days before the Dominionist Right took over final approval authority for the White House science policy, the United States used to be the world leader in developing new technology. Since the Dominionists don’t really believe in science, it’s really not surprising that Incurious George keeps stepping on his tongue every time he opens his mouth on a scientific subject. He’s just following orders. . . .

Incurious George is more interested in urging people to “pray that America uses the gift of freedom to build a culture of life.” As Incurious George has said before, he don’t do nuance.

Think Again: Instant Democracy
Center for American Progress
by Eric Alterman
May 5, 2005

On March 14, Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria wrote one of the more strained apologias for Bush's policy, turning one of the president's most glaring faults – 'his lack of curiosity – into his greatest strength. Zakaria writes that the president's "capacity to imagine a different Middle East may actually be related to his relative ignorance of the region. . . ."

Abortion is the biggest evil, but we still need dialogue
Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest (IL)
5/3/2005 10:00:00 PM
by Gregory Black

You mention some of the non-abortion trouble spots in your column—the death penalty, the environment, the war in Iraq, health care, an unquestioning support for corporate America in all of its manifestations. The administration’s positions and orientations on each of these issues and many more are, in my opinion, extremely problematic from the perspective of Church teaching. Add to this the obvious lack of curiosity about the rest of the world and the empty-headed arrogance which so clearly characterizes the President’s habits of mind and of those of his main confreres, and a thoughtful Catholic voter is in a quandary.

March 2005

La Shawn Barber's Corner » Curious George and the Fox
Curious George and the Fox

If Bush had been armed with facts, he wouldn’t have sounded like such a clueless, fawning oaf in front of these people.

February 2005

baltimoresun.com - A Dawning Age of Unreason
In 21st-century America, people seem to prefer placing their unquestioning faith in divine mysteries than worshipping at the altar of science.
By Will Englund
Sun Staff
Originally published February 27, 2005

Religion . . . as the bioethicist Peter Singer points out in The President of Good and Evil, requires its adherents to stifle doubt, not to act on it. Case in point is George W. Bush, says Singer, who goes on to make a pretty convincing case that doubt is not one of the commander-in-chief's major afflictions. . . .

Susan Jacoby, an author who early in her career wrote about the Soviet Union, traces in Freethinkers the battles down through the past 200 years between religiosity and reason in American life, and concludes that religiosity is stronger now than it has ever been before. . . .

With religiosity comes certainty, and with certainty comes a complete lack of curiosity.

The Invisible Library: Uncurious George and the Thought Police
Friday, February 25, 2005
posted by Keith at 9:18 AM
Uncurious George and the Thought Police

Anyone who doesn't think we're sliding into some nascent American version of fascism needs to read this. Everyone else who has noticed needs to read it as well. From the Fort Worth Weekly:
The war on terror, coupled with budget deficits, seems to have morphed into a war on information.

Niagara Falls Reporter Opinion
By Bill Gallagher
Feb. 22 2005
Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News.

George W.'s political, cultural and social aversion to Europe and things European is abundantly clear. . . . He didn't make his first visit to Europe until he was president and he had to. . . .

He never thought of venturing to Europe to broaden his world view. Never. Incurious George prefers Texas. . . .

He shows growing signs of megalomania. His pomposity is apparent. He is consumed with single-minded obsessions, and his rigidity and aversion to introspection are legendary.

MSNBC - First lady looks forward to new role
NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams
First lady looks forward to new role
Laura Bush eager to work to curb gang violence
By Brian Williams, Anchor & “Nightly News” Managing Editor
Feb. 3, 2005

Williams: Your husband was in a playful mood during a television interview a few months ago, when he answered a question about what media he sees — newspapers, magazines, television. He said, in effect, "I don't read the papers. I don't watch television news. I get briefed orally." You were known to believe that that answer was unsatisfactory, that it painted him as an incurious man ...[ellipsis in original]

[First lady Laura] Bush: That's right.

Williams: ...which we know he is not. What papers come to the residence in the morning? Does he watch news? Do you watch together at all in the evening? How do you get your fill of information, if not opinion, which I know he doesn't prefer?

Bush: We get a lot of newspapers. We get The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. They all come to the White House. We get up about 5:30, and George goes and gets the coffee and the newspapers. And we drink coffee and read papers for about an hour. Then, of course, he goes on to work.

Jessica Murray's Writing on Astrology
Pluto and the Media
by Jessica Murray February 2005
The first known astrological reference to incuriosity in the Bush administration.

In the U.S. chart, Pluto has overpowered Mercury, crippling its capacity for curiosity. The anti-intellectualism for which our country has long been notorious has deepened into a dumbing-down trajectory that is studiously aided and abetted by the business-government alliance that rules from Washington (Pluto in the second house).

Without curiosity, we lack sufficient mental vitality to question -- let alone respond to -- what we are being told. What remains is numb credulity. . . .

But Pluto's operation is more subtle: the truth is not so much restricted, as bent and spun. The dark side of Pluto-Mercury, whether in an unenlightened individual or an unenlightened collective, is mind control. There may be an avalanche of information available, but its presentation is crafted to keep people from applying moral criteria to it, or even good old-fashioned logic.

January 2005

Tyrants on notice, the sheriff Is still in town
Kerala Presence on the Web
Indo-Asian News Service
[World News]: New York, Jan 22, 2005
Also appeared as Is still in town(COMMENTARY):- - India News

For someone who barely five years ago led a fairly uncurious existence about the world beyond the United States, presidency seems to have vetted Bush's appetite for making a global impact. With nothing to lose in his second term and prospects of leaving a legacy, it is quite conceivable that Bush would actually attempt to execute at least part of his vision.

That is where the world needs to watch out, especially a part of the world where political and social values do not coincide with America's. It was almost as if Bush was putting the world on notice.

The Conservative Voice - News & Commentary
January 20, 2005, 7:39 pm EST
By Jeff Jacoby

When George W. Bush took the oath of office four years ago, it was as a moderate Republican anxious to get beyond the unpleasantness of Florida and reclaim his reputation for easygoing bipartisanship. His agenda was hardly revolutionary: cutting taxes and improving public education at home, steering clear of nation-building abroad. He came across as easygoing, incurious, not given to hard thought or hard work -- and like his father, unencumbered by "the vision thing."

Buzzflash > Contributor > George Bush Doesn't Want You to Think
January 14, 2005
by Paul A. Moore
United Teachers of Dade (AFT-NEA)
Not only Incurious George, but incurious Bush supporters.

How did the American people know that as George Bush made his way through the most prestigious private schools, then Yale and Harvard Universities that he was not learning? He is arguably the most ill-informed, anti-intellectual, incurious man ever elevated to the Presidency of the United States. Simple mindedness, superstition, and mysticism are the Bush political machine's stock in trade. His political fortunes are empirically tied to a startling lack of awareness in his most fervent supporters. Recall the pre-election polls showing large majorities of likely Bush voters believed that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq!

Timberjay Newspapers Online
TIMBERJAY News Tower • Ely • Orr Minnesota
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Double standards - Conservatives demand accountability from CBS, ignore it in Bush White House

We all make mistakes. The important thing is how we respond to those mistakes. We can all argue about who should have shared the blame and taken the fall for CBS’s reporting error, but at least in their case someone was held accountable.

Which stands in stark contrast to the Bush White House, where we’ve seen a series of tragic failures go by without so much as a whiff of accountability. We can anticipate much the same result from this week’s revelations about Armstrong Williams. This strangely incurious White House shows little interest in what went wrong, which usually means nothing will change.

Citations, Explained, 2007
Citations, Explained, April–December 2006
Citations, Explained, January–March 2006
Citations, Explained, 2005
Citations, Explained, October–December 2004
Citations, Explained, July–September 2004
Citations, Explained, May–June 2004
Citations, Explained, April 2004
Citations, Explained, March 2004
Citations, Explained, February 2004
Citations, Explained, January 2004
Citations, Explained, October–December 2003
Citations, Explained, July–September 2003
Citations, Explained, January–June 2003
Citations, Explained, 2002
Citations, Explained, 2001
Citations, Explained, 2000 and earlier

Please contact webmaster to suggest new citations or report bad links.