Leah Garchik quotes Robin Williams on President Bush in today's SF Chronicle: "He's not a nice man. He knows what he's doing, and he's surrounded by other men who know what they are doing. Wake up. Look at the newspaper and read."
Robin Williams is a funny man and an intelligent man. You can't do the kind of comedy he does without being extremely bright. A sense of humor itself seems to be a form of intelligence. But his notion that President Bush is doing wrong and knows that he's doing wrong is completely wrongheaded. It seems clear to me that Bush thinks he's doing the right thing in Iraq, and ditto for his domestic policies. This may seem astonishing to San Francisco progressives, but surely it's true. What do they imagine his "real" motives are? I've had this same discussion with some of my progressive friends, and they too insist that the President is not only wrong, but he must know he's wrong. Progressives who agree with Williams on this are simply out of touch with reality. There is human activity in the world that is simply evil, but my observation is that, however misguided, almost everyone is sincere. If you can't concede that your political opponents are sincere in their beliefs and actions, you are essentially dehumanizing them: they are simply Evil and no longer part of a civil dialogue. Just as important, you tend to then indulge in a self-righteousness that corrodes your own political sensibilities. Something like this psychological process seems to underly a lot of political and religious fanaticism. Progressives need to understand that they aren't immune to this sort of thing.