Sympathy for the Devil
There was an anniversay of sorts yesterday, one that I would just as soon not have noticed if given the choice.
But one thing that the wall-to-wall coverage of 9-11 (in all its deep as a contact lens dish flag waving glory) brought about was a bit of a surprise.
I feel bad for Bush.
Don't get me wrong, I still think he is a sock puppet of a president. One of limited intelligence, education and understanding who is easily manipulated through the machinations of others.
His total inability to deal with the news of 9-11 was on display for all to see (and for us all to review endlessly on YouTube should we so decide), and it wasn't pretty. It was the face of complete and total uncomprehension. Two sentences and Bush's brain simply melted down.
In his defense, the news was horrific, and he is only human. But it was also crystal clear in those paralyzed moments, that he was not capable of being an effective leader, ever. The moment had come and past, and he had been found wanting - for 7+ minutes on live TV.
It is in fact BECAUSE I think he is so outwitted in his current circumstance that I feel bad for him. Stump for a change to Social Security in front of hand picked fawning audiences? He's your man. Strap on a cod-piece for the declaration that the 'Mission is Accomplished' - he's good for that too. Photo-ops are his specialty.
Think clearly and strategically about the Middle East? Please. This President didn't even know that there was a difference between Sunni and Shia muslims until after he authorized the attacks on Iraq.
Total ignorance is not the hall-mark of a sucessful statesman, though in the case of Reagan (the original sock puppet president) it was clearly not the disadvantage it has been for Bush.
And so after three days of hiding on Air Force One while Rudy Giuliani stepped into the still smoking chasm at the heart of New York and showed more spine in those 72 hours than he had in all his time in office prior (some moments do make the man), Bush turns to his dedicated hard working advisors, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rice for help.
The experts. The sober adults who would provide the information about reality necessary for Bush to make the right call.
So far, it seems pretty clear how that has turned out.
This is a president who operates completely within a reinforced bubble. He doesn't read. He doesn't watch the news. He's more isolated from reality than Chauncey Gardner. So as Iraq spirals inevtiably out of control, as he ponders how it is he lost New Orleans, as his poll numbers hover at Jimmy Carter levels, as newspapers openly debate whether he is the worst president in history, and as the three headed monster of Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice continues on their insane trajectory through the ME, I find I can only feel pity for Bush.
He's a man in so far over his head he has to look up to see the bottom, and he thinks the bottom is the sky.