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January 02, 2006

Digby on Bush

'A responsibility he knows he can't handle.'  Digby had a very insightful piece on President Bush a few days ago that I came across while catching up on my favorite blogs.  Riffing off an article in the Washington Post on Bush's obsession with brush clearing at his Crawford ranch, Digby says:

The president of the United States likes to spend his suburban ranchette vacation killing time cutting stuff down with a chainsaw and then torching it. Holy shit. Does it get any more symbolic than that?

(It reminds me of the tales his pals told about his childhood, stuffing frogs with firecrackers and blowing them up.)

So what does this mean?  Digby says:

You can't compare this to his bicycling or running obsessions, because those have a certain meditative yet thrilling physical challenge. This is something else entirely. This is the the only thing he can think of to do when he isn't running or biking. Mindless, loud, repetitive manual labor. It's like obsessively jackhammering sidewalks for fun.

Digby then mulls over a related question that a reader sent in asking about his conclusions about Bush after five years in office.  Is he evil? Is he stupid? Is he a religious fanatic, a spoiled frat boy, what?  Digby's thoughts:

I haven't actually changed my mind from the first impression I had of him when he said "Christ. He changed my life" in answer to the debate question about favorite political philosophers. He's simple but well-trained. And he hasn't changed. The person we have been watching for the last five years is the same inarticulate, testy, arrogant and shallow, rich mediocrity he was when he took office.

He's also as laughably robotic and unresponsive as ever. (Only Scott McClellan is less spontaneous.) But the Republicans discovered that if the president doesn't submit himself to spontaneous situations and is disciplined in his message, people will get used to it after a while and stop expecting him to actually answer questions. This was new. Reagan wasn't a genius, but he understood the public after a lifetime of training in what they wanted from a celebrity. He also had a good sense of humor and great timing. He was very capable of dealing with the press. Clinton was a master of detail who could riff on anything. His intellect and his obvious enjoyment in governing prepared him to answer any question that was thrown at him. Bush senior was bumbling but professional. He responded.

Junior simply doesn't engage unless he is forced to, seeing encounters with the press as nothing more than an oppportunity to get out the message of the day and run out the clock. He is a living stone wall who speaks in strange parables and cliches and sometimes just pure gibberish. He falters, he stammers, he looks uncomforatble and weak. Yet he was until fairly recently perceived by most to be a strong and resolute leader. (The post 9/11 delusion was some powerful mojo.)

I know that it's not considered wise to "misunderestimate" him and I've heard many people say that he's got political acumen that we elitist nerds just don't get. I don't believe it. I know what I see. The man has been in over his head since the day he entered the presidential race and he's still in over his head. 9/11 got him reelected in 2004, but he and his administration have been hanging on by their fingernails since the day they took office. They wear suits and ties and say sir and ma'm, but it's all to cover for the fact that they had no idea how to govern and by now it's clear they never will.

I see a man who is barely holding back his panic; a man who clings to his pathetic "war president" image like a talisman. He looks confused and hurt by the criticism he's receiving from people who he thought bought into the program and reportedly knows on some level that he's been duped by his advisors. He has no choice but to keep barreling along pretending that he knows what he's doing. He barks at underlings and pretends to be in charge even as he gets more and more confused. He's distanced from his father, the one person everyone thought could help guide this callow airhead if the shit came down. He trusts no one now.

So he clears brush like a madman everytime he gets the chance, hiding behind his Oakley's, blessedly unable to hear anything over the sound of chainsaws ---- maybe even the voices inside his head that remind him that he's still got three more years of this horrible responsibility he knows he cannot handle.

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 2, 2006 at 11:13 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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