Been sick, sick, sick, and that makes me think, think, think.

Way back when Bush was president, I used to wonder how such a silly person (who calls one of their friends Turd Blossom???) could end up running the most powerful country in the world, and I really think a lot of his success came down to the fact that people ‘misunderestimated’ (to use a Bushism) him.

Bush was not a good president. He was not good at running things. He was not particularly proficient at anything, I suspect, EXCEPT at getting elected.

Last night I was watching a very interesting movie The Ides of March. I really like that so many Hollywood movies these days are actually quite intelligent! The Ides of March  is directed by George Clooney and it’s definitely worth watching.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is a fine actor! He’s such a chameleon that even though you know it’s him, he can still surprise you with the depth of his performance.

He’s fantastic as the guilty priest in Doubt (another fantastic movie by the way) and yet he can play a jerk journalist too in Red Dragon  and a gambling addict in Owning Mahoney.

In Ides of March he played Paul, the head of the Mike Morris’s (George Clooney’s character) Democratic primary campaign.

He’s really big on loyalty. That point comes through in interesting ways throughout the movie, and honestly it reminded me incredibly of Bush.

I think Bush’s biggest problem was that he valued loyalty over competence. And perhaps it was because he was so incompetent himself. Maybe he so appreciated it when people were loyal to him and overlooked his flaws that he was extremely accommodating in return.

And yet, I might just be full of nonsense and pontificating with some arm chair psychology.

But I do understand the power of being underestimated.

For much of my life I feel like I’ve been underestimated.

By family members, by community friends, and especially by people who could have really hurt me.

It took me a very long time to start taking my instincts seriously.

I would get impressions of people that were sometimes at odds with the ideas of other people around me.

For instance, one time I went with some friends to a university lecture. The guy who was lecturing was highly regarded in the community. But as soon as I entered the auditorium every hair on the back of my neck started to rise and something inside me was screaming, “Danger! Danger! Saruman!”

I resisted the impulse to run out of the auditorium. I sat down and listened, and honestly it was like the moment in Lord of the Rings when Tolkien describes people who are put under the spell, who know it’s a spell, but who can do little to prevent it.

Afterwards my friends did their darnedest to try to convince me that the guy was fine. “What did he actually say that was so wrong?” they asked me repeatedly. And I admitted that I couldn’t exactly pinpoint anything in particular, and yet the warning bells kept clanging in my head, “Danger, Danger, Saruman!”

It got to the point where I retreated. I didn’t go to any more of the man’s lectures. I refused adamantly. And something inside me said there was nothing I could do about the guy, just give him a really wide berth. Stay away! And so I did.

All this happened, and yet I was still surprised when years later it came out that the guy led a cult, and had conned people out of their fortunes.

Another time I was dealing with a relative. She had a friend who had a slight disformity. We met a number of times and this guy seemed to be nice enough, and yet there was always something inside me that hung back.

And the funny thing was this guy completely ignored me. I tried to be nice to him, but I was not worthy of notice, apparently.

My relative kept singing his praises, and at one point she even wanted to encourage another relative to marry him, but I did not encourage the idea. “Why?” asked my relative. “Is it because of his deformity?”

I said, “No.” But I wasn’t sure why. I started second guessing myself. Wondering if it really was.

Back then I really wasn’t confident in my opinion of people.

Unbeknownst to me, my relative ended up lending this guy over twenty thousand dollars. I think she felt sorry for him and he played her.

The guy never bothered asking me because I was beneath his notice.

Over the years I’ve seen this being state of being underestimated has its advantages.

You can fly under the radar, so to speak.

You can watch and learn from the periphery without becoming a target.

But then, I’ve also been extremely fortunate. And this has really saved me so many times when I was vulnerable.

I can count on three fingers the times I have actually been burned by people in my life–and one of those was only for $20!

I chalk a lot of it up to God’s mercy and being beneath the notice of people who could do me harm.