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Bush's Gut is a No-Brainer
March 18, 2003
By Dennis Hans

One of the greatest high-tech medical inventions in recent years is the gutoscope, which allows doctors to examine every inch of the disgestive organ commonly known as the "gut." The highly sensitive instrument can detect any abnormality, from tumors to brainwaves.

Nearly 50,000 Americans have undergone gutoscopies, and not a single brainwave has been detected in a single gut. Not even in the gut of George W. Bush.

The president has a perfectly good brain. Any gent who can earn an Ivy League MBA despite lousy study habits surely has grey matter to burn. Most of the partisan wags who call him "stupid" would make out like bandits were they to swap brains with Bush.

Unfortunately, on some issues - tax cuts, Saddam Hussein - Bush appears to have made a conscious decision to disengage his brain and rely on his non-thinking gut. Rather than use his brain to weigh the evidence, he trusts his gut to tell him what's right. Once his gut has spoken, he instructs his aides to provide talking points that buttress his gut and shield him from any and all facts that undercut his gut.

That is no way to run a life, let alone a nation. Not only does it guarantee the deception of the citizenry, it permits the president to deceive more convincingly than if he were knowingly telling one whopper after another. No doubt at some level Bush is aware that, with respect to Iraq, much of what he presents as established fact is unproven or false. But with his brain on idle he can project the "certitude" that lends a false credibility to his claims.

Not only is Bush not stupid, he's fully capable of seeing more than one side of an issue. I recall an interview with Bob Costas, where Bush showed a good understanding of the different perspectives of Major League Baseball owners on to how to fix a system that makes it difficult for small-market clubs to remain competitive. He even suggested a compromise that would satisfy the small-market owners as well as the George Steinbrenners and Ted Turners.

That's because Bush was relying at the time on the organ responsible for reasoning: his brain. If he had relied on his gut, which quite likely harbors a visceral hatred of Turner due to the tycoon's long-time support for environmental causes and the U.N., Bush might have spit out a tough-guy answer about the need for "regime change" at Turner's Atlanta Braves.

Granted, it's easier for Bush to see both sides when one side is comprised of really rich guys and the other side is comprised of even richer guys. Nevertheless, Bush proved then, as he has on other occasions, that when his brain is switched on he's capable of nuanced thinking and peaceful compromise.

That's exactly what Bush must do right now: switch on his brain.

With a switched-on brain, Bush could take a careful, detached look at fenced-in, permanently monitored Saddam and conclude that he poses scant threat in the foreseeable future to his neighbors, let alone to the United States.

With a switched-on brain, Bush could replay Mohamed ElBaradei's devastating destruction of Bush and Powell's laughable "evidence" about Iraq's efforts to revive its defunct nuclear weapons program. The Bush brain would have no choice but to acknowledge just how full of you-know-what the Bush gut is.

With a switched-on brain, Bush would be able to recall if his gut had signed a "presidential finding" authorizing CIA dirty tricks to frame Iraq - perhaps by forging documents (or paying a foreign intelligence agency to do the forgeries so as to keep the U.S. hand hidden) to make it appear that Iraq tried to acquire uranium from Niger, or by enlisting "assets" in the Middle East and the Czech Republic to falsely tie Iraq to 9-11 terrorist Mohamed Atta.

With a switched-on brain, Bush would have to confront all the exaggerations, distortions and worse that he and his aides have concocted to gain public support for the incineration of Iraqis whose only crime is to have been born in Baghdad.

The thoughts racing through that switched-on brain just might reactivate the Bush conscience, which might usher in a succession of sleepless nights. Sleepless nights might lead to reflection, humility and patience - qualities that candidate Bush assured Americans he possessed and that the world desperately wants President Bush to display.


Dennis Hans is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Post (Canada) and online at TomPaine.com, Slate and The Black World Today (tbwt.com), among other outlets. He has taught courses in mass communications and American foreign policy at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, and can be reached at HANS_D@popmail.firn.edu.

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