Tuesday, October 10, 2006

hot and steamy bush

According to New York Daily News Washington Bureau Chief Thomas DeFrank, State of Denial and Predagate have the President all hot and bothered. Be it Bob Woodward’s pen or Mark Foley’s thumb, something has reportedly crawled up GW’s ass.

Bush is furious with his own side for helping create a political downdraft that has blunted his momentum and endangered GOP prospects for keeping control of Congress next month.

Some of his anger is directed at former aides who helped Watergate journalist Bob Woodward paint a lurid portrait of a dysfunctional, chaotic administration in his new book, "State of Denial."

. . . .

"He's ticked off big-time," said a well-informed source, "even if what they said was the truth."

. . . .

Moreover, Bush's personal disgust with the GOP sex scandal involving ex-Rep. Mark Foley has exacerbated his already-strained relations with congressional Republicans. While publicly embracing House Speaker Dennis Hastert, sources close to Bush say he thinks Hastert and other GOP House leaders have bungled their handling of the Foley affair and look like they've been engaged in a coverup.

Bush has complained, these sources said, that the scandal torpedoes furious GOP efforts to reenergize a dispirited political base - especially Christian conservatives.

"There's steam coming out of his ears over the Foley thing," someone who talks to the President regularly said. "The base is starting to get turned off again."

A few things stand out for me (beyond the amusing image of Bush turning bright red and having cartoon train whistle steam blow out of his ears): First, note that the downturn in President Bush’s fortunes is not in any way perceived by him as being his fault. Things aren’t bad because of what he’s done, they’re bad because people talked about what he’s done. He’s “ticked off” even if people told the truth.

Second, observe how little true fealty Bush has for his enablers in Congress, AKA the Rubberstamp Republicans. They have given him all the tools this unitary executive could ask for claim as his by right, and yet, when things go wrong, he’d just as soon throw them all under the bus. (And, by the way, Bush’s public embrace of Hastert is easily parsed to reveal very little support at all.)

Third, notice that nothing is about the issue at hand—Iraq, sexual predators, congressional corruption, Korean nukes (in Woodward’s book, and this article, not in the article above)—it is about electoral politics. (I actually find it a bit funny that things have transitioned so quickly from trying to attribute grand policy objectives to this administration’s actions to matter-of-factly reporting that this or that, foreign or domestic, is designed to energize the base, raise presidential poll numbers, or undercut the Democrats. It is reported without a hint of cynicism, as if it is natural, right, and fair to expect a president to act in his own self interest rather than that of the country he is sworn to protect. One step at a time, I suppose. At least reports now acknowledge the actual motivation.)

How does a president claim dictatorial powers for his office and then blame others for things going awry? How does a man reconcile a selfish “it’s all about me” worldview with a complete absence of personal responsibility for anything his worldview does to the world?

(Hat tips all around to Think Progress, AmericaBlog, and Taegan Goddard—apparently, it takes a village to get me to read my "hometown paper.")


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