December 14, 2005

Bush in the Bubble Newsweek article on the insularity of the Bush White House, comparisons to good other Presidents' styles and a smattering of current scuttlebutt. Bush may be the most isolated president in modern history, at least since the late-stage Richard Nixon. It's not that he is a socially awkward loner or a paranoid. He can charm and joke like the frat president he was. Still, beneath a hail-fellow manner, Bush has a defensive edge, a don't-tread-on-me prickliness.

Heh. I said "butt" Sometimes I have a grim fascination with the Shrubya psyche - how he got that way, or why he does what he does. This article fed some of that, talking about always being protected by "strong women" such as his mother, his wife, and . . Condi. Bush doesn't talk to Congress at all - barely during photo shoots even. The first paragraphs about the difference in how Rep. Murtha, the Democratic hawk who called for troop removal from Iraq, was treated by Bush I vs. Bush II are quite a comparison.

  • We do our jobs with the personality that we have, not the personality that we want.
  • We do our jobs with the personality corporate donors that we have, not the personality corporate donors that we want.
  • I have a grim fascination with Chimpy's mental condition and what led to it (birth) too, however, I'm far more bitter, hateful and twisted about it, and my evaluation of its effect on the health of other human beings on planet earth is rather low.
  • Problem is that this isolation is a vicious circle. He started by appointing people from his father's administration -- people he knew, rather than who may have been best for the job. From that point on, all his exposure to the outside world was screened by that inner circle, so that that inner circle could protect themselves and exert control beyond their proper balliwick. He's lavished with praise, and he doesn't know any better than what he's told. As time goes on, each member of that inner circle becomes more and more powerful, to the point where Chimpy is essentially just the ultimate yes man. He's never exposed to differing views, his authority is never challenged -- leading to increasing self-importance (an odd term, considering the position, I know) and further isolation and reliance, more like Howard Huges each day. On the rare occasion, like the first debate, the bubble is burst, and Chimpy is left naked and exposed. Someone like Clinton (although this is but one example -- there were others) took the opposite approach. Have agents of dissent built-in to your inner circle, your ideas get tested and strengthened, people within the circle compete, keeping each other in check while actively promoting the leader's prestige. Of course, the trick is to find the right degree of dissent, so as to not self-destruct. IMHO, anyway. What do I know?
  • more than Chimpy, apparently.
  • It's not hard to know more than Chimpy.
  • We do our jobs with the corporate donors that we have, not the corporate donors that we want. Hmm, adding the corporate donor angle would be, while not necessarily a whole new article, a whole new flavor to add to the mix. It does make one wonder where those corporate execs, so close to the Bush administration's bosom, fall in the circle of trust mentioned in the article. I was also impressed at how the author managed to make this article, which derives from a basic hypothesis that Bush is isolated, so civil a critique while in other articles in other venues, the verbage would be nothing less than rancorous. Oh yes, I suppose we can all note that, as its Newsweek, with its own corporate donors it's beholden to, that it can't ruffle many feathers. And I suppose one might wonder if the author really wanted to be more pointed. Read the article through and you'll see that the author even complements Bush in some of the facets of his personality. And so that's what I like. I have no doubt of the validity of these observations of Bush and his insularity as they have been consistently noted, albeit sometimes quietly since he first ran for president lo these many years ago. I'm sure the conservative press will run for the sand regarding this article (in case they're not too busy asserting there's a war on Christmas), but I find it refreshing to see the length and breadth of this piece in the good ol' mainstream media. Let such articles continue.
  • To just comment further, I think this feature detailing his isolation makes his administration's mistakes and gaffes all the more plain. It makes the fact that even Republican congressmen are bolting more obvious. I've been astounded at the wooden resolve the party standing by their man simply because they've got a GOP boy in the White House. I said it in the summer of 2001 and I'll say it again, Bush isn't even fulfilling the wider Republican ideals for small government, fiscal responsibility, and keeping the troops well equipped. (the latter should be any government's ideal, but I've spoken with enough folks on the left with a "one-hatchet-fits-all" attitude toward defense spending). He doesn't listen to the experts, even experts with a party pedigree as GOP-ariffic as his own. Some folks might admire the fact that he appears to avoid anything approaching pragmatism in his political maneuvers, but it just seems to reinforce how ill-suited he is to head a democracy that is still, in many ways, trying to recover from the scandal and rancor of Watergate. The White House's sustained Orwellian approach to communication is astounding and dispiriting in the extreme. And I also don't dig those baby blue ties.
  • as your friendly neighborhood commie-pinko-freak I support well equipped troops absolutely. I also absolutely don't support $110 hammers and $2000 toilet seats, etc. I'm also unconvinced that Blackwater and other outsource agencies like KBR and Halliburton can do it better for less. I think that's what the "neocon" thing is all about. Bankrupting government, fat contracts to the good ol' boys club, redistricting to favor republican candidates, permanent tax breaks that favor the rich, and privacy-crushing legislation for the "lessons of 9/11", and gutting environmental protections. By being so insular and stifling all dissent, this administration is fiddling while Rome burns.
  • asserting there's a war on Christmas *applauds*
  • folks on the left with a "one-hatchet-fits-all" attitude toward defense spending I've been angry for a couple of years about the administration's sending our people to fight and die in Iraq without adequate body armor and armored vehicles, but I still feel we should take a big chunk out of the defense budget. The problem with the defense budget is that no one gets rich--or, I should say, no one gets even more rich--protecting fungible people with body armor at $1000 a pop. DOD's budget for FY2006 was $427 billion, and total military spending was $558 billion--that's $558,000,000,000--or 30% of the total budget. We're spending half a trillion* dollars to go 0-2 in Afghanistan and Iraq. We could take $5 billion off the defense budget to fund things like K-12 education, world hunger, alternative energy, children's health care, and Head Start, and the Pentagon would still have a budget that's three times as big as all of our potential enemies combined. Source: this excellent Flash animation [.gif] of Ben "and Jerry's" Cohen using Oreos as an analogy. Shit like ballistic missile defense and buying weapons we don't need or use and the Rumsfeld Doctrine of military transformation are boondoggles, and the only thing getting transformed is that a bunch of obscenely rich fuckers will be transformed into hyperbolically rich fuckers. The US has 72 nuclear submarines, about twice as much as everyone else in the world put together. China has one. The Air Force tried to scrap the A-10 Warthog, even though the Warthog kicks ass and Apaches suck, because Warthogs are cheaper than Apaches. * US trillion
  • I know how to fix the Federal budget, and it wouldn't hurt military readiness at all. Well... maybe some defense contractors.. well, what Kirkiracha said... but you could HALVE the military budget and still have uparmored humvees and bulletproof vests and healthcare for veterans and more troops than we have. And in return you get to stop worrying about social security, medicare, have universal basic healthcare, pay down the national debt (or cut taxes the way the neocons claim they want), and since some of that defense contractor money is being outsourced, I suspect the impact on the U.S. economy could only be good in the long run. On the other hand it would help if we had some industries of our own still other than defense so we could stop sending money to China. /rant off //may not be entirely accurate but its the internet, what do you want? wikipedia?
  • Nice rant kirkaracha. And agreed. But it's not like we have a record trade deficit for the second straight month in a- oh wait just a second . . . uh huh . . . uh . huh . . . yeah . . . okay um well as it turns out we do have a record trade deficit for the second straight month in a row. Ahhh . . so. I guess, . . then . . my point would beeeee . . . Oh! I know - only buy "Made in the USA" goods for the holiday season. Or, y'know, in general. If you can find them. Which means not going to Wal-Mart or Target. also I meant to say "and the baby with the babboon heart / These are the days of miracle and wonder"
  • George Bush sometimes sounds more like the Mahdi, preaching jihad against infidels, than the leader of a western democracy. Sometimes?!?
  • Yeah, and the reason we don't understand is because of the special state secrets they can't tell us, else they'd have to kill us. No, really. They'd kill us. The Constitution: it's more like guidelines.
  • The world in which WE live?!? Who's this "WE?" This guy's not living in remotely the same world as we the people who employed him.
  • I can't believe he just did that Was that a response to the pig incident?
  • Bush: Dumb? Yes.
  • and from a link in the above . . link: In a recent meeting at the White House, Bush told visitors how Lincoln (whose portrait he has installed in the Oval Office) persevered in the Civil War despite many defeats on the battlefield, tens of thousands of casualties, and doubts among Northern voters that the conflict could ever be won. As the campaign of 1864 approached, Bush related, Lincoln admitted privately that he didn’t think he would be re-elected, but pursued his policies anyway. Bush also described how Lincoln pressed on despite his grief when his beloved 11-year-old son Willie died in February 1862. The visitors came away with the conviction that Bush sees himself in Lincoln’s mold more deeply than ever. Yeek.