Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bush's Conscience

Today, we come to the end of the Bush Administration.

We would have been better off if it had happened four years earlier. We would have been better off if this Bush Administration had never existed.

Bush has made the world a worse place than it would have been if he had not existed. He will never be able to admit this to himself. (Neither will his co-horts such as Cheney.) However, what these people can admit to themselves and what is fact are not the same thing. In this case, they are quite different.

The best that Bush could say for himself was that I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made, but I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions. .

The fact is, everybody can say that they followed their conscience.

Hitler almost certainly followed his conscience, as did Stalin and every other dictator. Certainly, the 9-11 hijackers followed their conscience. The vast majority of slave owners before the 1860 followed their conscience.

People follow their conscience because their conscience is nothing more than a set of their own desires and aversions. They are sets of what the agent has learned to like or dislike.

The question is never whether a person has followed their conscience. The question is always whether a person had a conscience worth following. It is on this latter test that Bush failed.

He did not fail as spectacularly as some - as spectacularly as Hitler and Stalin, for example. However, he did fail. His conscience had more in common with theirs than this country needed or deserved.

In fact, it is an act of supreme arrogance for somebody to "follow their conscience". This is the act of somebody who thinks so highly of themselves that they (unlike everybody else in the world who holds different standards) cannot possibly make a mistake. A person has to consider their conscience to be incapable of error to make it the standard for all their actions.

The person who admits to the possibility of error would have reason to examine his conscience.

But not Bush.

Bush was far too arrogant for that type of self-evaluation.

Fortunately, from this day forward, he gets to follow his conscience as a private citizen, without dragging the rest of the country with him.


Elizabeth said...

I'm a Catholic Christian and I agree with you that one should have a conscience worth following. A judgement according to conscience cannot be a merely subjective thing, but a well informed conscience will take into account reason and divine law, which would lead to a wise judgement. One has the duty to educate one's conscience.

Anonymous said...

"His conscience had more in common with theirs than this country needed or deserved."

I wouldn't say this country didn't "deserve" his conscience - the nation elected him to office twice.