All right, everyone’s linked to this ludicrous column on Bush as Batman, but so far as I can see nobody’s taken the time to explain why it’s wrong. Below, with spoilers.

Before I go there: not only is the Dark Knight Batman not a Bush conservative, the Clash were not conservative. Dylan was not conservative. By the standards of the modern Republican Party, Theodore Roosevelt was not conservative. (Bonus on the middle TR link: neither was Winston Churchill.) Why would partisans of a movement claim as antecedents and allies people who would have been puzzled if not nauseated at the thought?

UPDATED: Ackerman on the subject; very good. Beaudrot on the subject; fine, but wrong. Transformers are a novelty created to sell action toys. Batman is a longstanding American myth, repeatedly reinterpreted, and like it or not central to the way Americans think about urban crime and corruption. (As is Dirty Harry.)

Yes, Batman does torture criminals to get answers in a ticking time-bomb scenario. Notice what happens when he does: he gets the wrong information, and the bomb kills the person he’s trying to save.

Pro-torture? No.

Yes, Batman does act outside the law. He perceives it as a temporary expedient, in ways large and small: the film’s plot depends on his trying to quit his vigilante role and turn law enforcement back to the elected officials. And his failure to do so results directly from his vigilantism.

Pro-extralegal enforcement of order? No.

Most importantly, what Batman does is not an acceptable method of government—not to him, and not to the people of Gotham (who come off as extremely civic-minded and decent in this movie). Moreover it is unacceptable largely because Batman is not a member of the government. So it isn’t even true that from the point of view of the Batman character himself, Bush-style policies would be a good idea. (Notice, e.g., his intentions with respect to the TIA-like machinery.)

Pro-elected officials acting like vigilantes? No.

The film showcases the shortcomings, failures, and bad consequences (supercriminals like the Joker, who gets called a “terrorist” in the film, and who kills innocent civilians) of Batman-style law enforcement.

About the only policy that looks anything like Bush strategy that comes off favorably in the film is lying and covering up to give the public a heroic myth. This happens at the very end. Maybe it too will turn out to have bad consequences in a sequel.