In contrast, Bush has long had a reputation, in some circles, for being a nasty and vengeful man. Now that reputation is spreading -- despite the vengeance so many have felt.
Washington Post - Dan Froomkin - Now They Tell UsThe last paragraph is the most interesting. Bush's nature was common wisdom among journalists. They, however, did not put that impression into print. One wonders ... why not? Fear, perchance?
Judging from the blistering analyses in Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere these past few days, it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don't emerge from his gut. He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read. And oh yes, one of his most significant legacies -- the immense post-Sept. 11 reorganization of the federal government which created the Homeland Security Department -- has failed a big test.
Maybe it's Bush's sinking poll numbers -- he is, after all, undeniably an unpopular president now. Maybe it's the way that the federal response to the flood has cut so deeply against Bush's most compelling claim to greatness: His resoluteness when it comes to protecting Americans.
But for whatever reason, critical observations and insights that for so long have been zealously guarded by mainstream journalists, and only doled out in teaspoons if at all, now seem to be flooding into the public sphere.
Gore did not have trouble understanding his speeches.
This Newsweek article provides more background. On careful reading this article is actually pretty sympathetic and emphasizes that Bush, once he recognized the scale of the problem, was deeply troubled and engaged. Even I can believe that. The fundamental problem remains however that Katrina played to all the weaknesses of this administration, and those weaknesses spring from George Bush. If he wants to rescue his legacy, he needs to shake up his administration and bring in the disloyal.
I was pleasantly surprised that someone left a comment on this post. I think of this as a mono-blog. The poster is correct that no-one in the Bush administration is willing to go on record as saying Bush is nasty, vengeful and distracted. On the other hand, almost no-one denies he is vengeful, so lack of commentary is not surprising. O'Neill was an insider who said all of this of course, but he was so thoroughly obliterated by Bush's gang that even his mother doesn't remember him very well.
As a proxy I offer the words of Molly Ivins, who's known Bush since before he stopped drinking. She adopts what is becoming the critics consensus on Katrina -- this is what you get when you staff government with people who hate government:
Some of you may have heard me observe a time or two -- going back to when George W. was still governor of Texas -- that the trouble with the guy is that while he is good at politics, he stinks at governance. It bores him, he's not interested, he thinks government is bad to begin with and everything would be done better if it were contracted out to corporations.
We can now safely assert that W. has stacked much of the federal government with people like himself. And what you get when you put people in charge of government who don't believe in government and who are not interested in running it well is... what happened after Hurricane Katrina.
Many a time in the past six years I have bit my tongue so I wouldn't annoy people with the always obnoxious observation, "I told you so." But, dammit it all to hell, I did tell you, and I've been telling you since 1994, and I am so sick of this man and everything he represents -- all the sleazy, smug, self-righteous graft and corruption and "Christian" moralizing and cynicism and tax cuts for all his smug, rich buddies.
Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.