Justin Webb, apparently more unrepentant than his apology
might suggest following the beating he took from listeners the last time he defended the US
, once again surprises with a "viewpoint" analysis
that is not altogether unflattering to George Bush.
Rather than the typical caricature of an intellectually challenged and detached president, Webb describes Bush as exhibiting a "charm and wit worthy of Ronald Reagan", as "a man capable of seizing new ideas", and someone "who knows what it is like to maintain a course in spite of temptations along the way." In what Webb seemingly recognizes will come as news to the ill-informed BBC audience, he points out that "the Bush Doctrine has beef" and "is not devoid of content." Who'd of thunk it, huh?
Webb even notes, with some degree of bemused sarcasm, the irrational response of the "Bush-haters" to his mild defense of America and Bush from a few weeks ago.
The response was furious and instructive...I had crossed a line in the sand: it is acceptable to defend the US to snooty Europeans (well, almost) but never to show any sympathy for the "toxic Texan" and his sinister doings.
Of course, it would be wrong to call the piece pro-Bush. It is sprinkled with knocks on him, both implicit and explicit, as when he says that Bush "is nowhere near as unyielding as he would have his more credulous supporters believe." And he suggests that the White House's current agenda is driven primarily, if not exclusively, by the upcoming mid-term congressional elections rather than any broader strategic vision. And, inevitably, Webb can't quite resist the urge to paint his infamous picture of the US as an ignorant and unsophisticated place, referring to Washington as "the capital city of a nation where Iran and Iraq are frequently confused."
Still, Webb has made some effort to provide a nuanced, thoughtful view of Bush...certainly more nuanced and thoughtful than many we have seen in the past on the BBC. Indeed, in response to the wrath vistited upon him by the "Bush-haters", Webb says that "it seems to me that an unprejudiced view of where the president is coming from, of what he has in store, is more important than ever." One would have hoped that an "unprejudiced" view has always been important for the BBC, but better late than never, I suppose. And although he won't admit it, Webb himself has played no small part in stoking the anti-Bush crowd. However, with this latest effort, Webb has provided some measure of that unprejudiced view, and while it is ironic that Webb's properly labelled opinion piece is considerably more "unprejudiced" than much of his straight reporting, it is an irony welcomed by TAE.