Congratulations to blogger Teresa Nielsen Hayden for getting her thoughts on Bush published in the WaPo (in Dan Froomkin's much-debated opinion/news column). Hayden's thoughts are the most intelligible stuff I have read in a newspaper for some time, and a provide the very key to understanding the 'Real Bush':
Bush doesn't really talk to us. When it's advantageous or required, he'll go through the motions of talking to us; but that's all. What it 'means' is that he either has to do it, like the State of the Union speech; or he wants something from us, like votes; or he's tossing out a string of words calculated to endear him to some fraction of the citizenry, like 'manned missions to Mars' or 'Constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.' He doesn't care what he's saying, and afterward he doesn't consider himself bound by what he's said.Hayden's post elaborates on an excellent essay at Huffo by Jane Smiley. Read it here.
The implications are unpleasant. Someone who doesn't care that he's lying to you, and doesn't care that you know it, doesn't respect you, and doesn't consider you part of his social or political universe. Look at how many disparate reasons Bush has tendered for cutting taxes for the rich, or going to war with Iraq. The only connection between those statements and his actions is that he believed that saying those things would get him what he wants...
He doesn't care about you even if you do agree with him.
And here's a glimpse of "the real Bush" from another WaPo article:
President Bush was taking questions from an audience the other day when he was asked about the immigration debate raging in Washington.Funny? That sort of banter might be almost funny if it was coming from some uneducated redneck in a Texan bar. But when it is coming from the most powerful individual on our increasingly warm planet, a man whose administration is being buried in corruption, a man most people in his own country identify as an icompetent liar and a fool, while Iraqi children die of malnutrition and a thousand other "errors" go unaccounted, it's just disgraceful.
"It's obviously topic du jour ," he said.
The audience laughed at the famously Francophobic Texan's faux accent.
"Pretty fancy, huh?" Bush asked, mocking himself. "Topic du jour ?"
The audience laughed again.
"I don't want to ruin the image," he added conspiratorially.
No wonder fellow Republicans are deserting the "Real Bush" in droves:
"It's open season on him. George Bush has lost trust on too many issues," said presidential historian Thomas E. Cronin of Colorado College. "We saw it happen with Johnson, we saw it with Nixon. And now, sadly, we're seeing it with Bush."
... Some conservatives contend he really isn't really one of them.
They point to Bush's immigration stance, mushrooming government spending and soaring deficits on his watch and his failed attempt to put White House lawyer Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court. Some complain about the growing cost and attempted "nation building" of wartime Iraq.
"A lot of conservatives have had reservations about him for a long time, but have been afraid to speak out for fear that it would help liberals and the Democrats," said Bruce Bartlett, a Treasury official in the Reagan administration. Such concerns are no longer very relevant, he said.
"I think there are growing misgivings about the conduct of the Iraq operation, and how that relates to a general incompetence his administration seems to have about doing basic things," said Bartlett, author of a scathing book titled, "Impostor: How George Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy."