Billmon reminds us of Isaiah Berlin’s ever-useful concept, drawn from Archilochus, of the hedgehog and the fox — “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing” — and applies it witheringly to the twilight of the Bush era:
At this point, I would say Shrub is acting like a hedgehog on hallucinogens. His one big integrative idea — exporting American-style “democracy” to Iraq at the point of a gun — has proven fatally, disastrously wrong, but he can’t let go of it, because it’s the only idea he’s got. He’s fully vested in it, like a ’90s e-trader who decided to throw caution to the wind, empty his retirement account and bet it all on pets.com.
I think if Shrub were ever forced to let go of his vision, his one big idea, it would not only crush his fragile ego, it would leave him completely incapable of making any sense at all out of his presidency, out of America’s role in the Middle East, out of the universe.
So now he’s imitating the hedgehog as literally as any human being can — he’s rolled himself up into a defensive ball, spines out. He has nothing useful to say and absolutely no strategy beyond hunkering down and passively defying reality. Which leaves the generals and the troops no choice but to hunker down with him.
The next two and a half years are going to be very long ones.
Long and painful.
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