Gut is a No-Brainer
March 18, 2003
By Dennis Hans
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
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
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
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.