If evil were to take over America, it would have to do it with a smiling face and postures of righteousness.
Most of the evil rulers in history made no pretense to moral virtue. Maintaining their power through terror, they simply intimidated people into submission.
But in a democracy, evil can rise to power only with the peoples consentat least in the first stage. And this means that deception replaces brute force as evils route to the throne.
This is why the partnership between George W. Bush and Karl Rove has proved so fatefully dangerous for America, for the two men bring profoundly complementary talents to the theater of moral deception.
Rove As Dramatist of the Moral Lie
Twenty years ago, according to James Moore, et al., the authors of Bushs Brain, he faked the wiretapping of his own officea gesture that made his candidate appear the victim of dirty tricks from the other side.
And hes apparently orchestrated the smearing of George W. Bushs opponents in one campaign after anotherfrom a whisper campaign in the 1994 Texas gubernatorial race to insinuate that Gov. Ann Richards was a lesbian, to the behind-the-scenes injection into the South Carolina primary in 2000 that Sen. John McCain had fathered a black child, to the character assassination employed against both Gore and Kerry in Bushs two presidential campaigns.
Roves now significant role in American history thus rests on his genius in dramatizing lies to persuade people to see his political enemies as morally worse than they really are. These moral lies are the democratic equivalent of assassination in regimes where swords rather than votes lead to power.
But Roves strategy of dramatizing moral lies to slander his enemies becomes really powerful when combined with its other half: the lie that presents his side as morally better than it is.
So the great dramatist of the moral lie also needed a talent for casting. And it should thus come as no surprise that the partnership with George W. Bush was formed at the initiation of Karl Rove.
In Bush, he recognized that hed found an actor who was not only heir to great power but also adept at pretending to a righteousness really quite foreign to his true nature.
Bush as the Great Pretender
However George W. Bush became adept at pretending to be a better man than he is, we know that putting himself together in an effective way took him a very long timea time marked by many failures covered over by bravado and anaesthetized by alcohol.
And we can see still in his body in his posturing like some sort of gunslinger, arms out from his side; in his swagger and strut; in the unnatural puffing out of the chestpowerful signs that this is a man who really does not know who he is. He seems constantly seeking the pose of the man in the white hat, an imitation of the heroes of movie westerns.
His infamous call to the insurgents to Bring it on! early in the conflict, as if it were he and not the soldiers hed sent into battle who would carry the brunt of the fight, is one indication of this Presidents deep lack of self-awareness.