In 1951, American social philosopher Eric Hoffer published The True Believer, his first and most influential book. In it he portrayed political fanatics as people who embrace a cause to compensate for their own feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
I can’t help but think of Hoffer’s book as I watch George W. Bush in the first weeks of war. “It is the true believer’s ability to shut his eyes and stop his ears to facts which in his own mind deserve never to be seen nor heard,” Hoffer wrote, “which is the source of his unequalled fortitude and consistency.”
Bush is reported to have a special epithet for members of his own staff who worry aloud. He calls them “hand-wringers.” And according to a recent New York Times article “President Keeps the Battlefield Close at Hand,” March 30, 2003), his “Friends and advisers say that Mr. Bush has never expressed any doubt about his decision to go to war–a certitude that those closest to him say he has exhibited most of his life.” Well, it turns out that he did crack once. “‘The only time I’ve seen him second-guessing himself,'” said Roland Betts, referring to the days when he and Bush co-owned the Texas Rangers, “‘was when he said that we shouldn’t have traded Sammy Sosa.'”