Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bubble Boy

The Newsweek issue with El Presidente floating on the cover in a bubble arrived today. The cover story is worth reading, more or less, despite Newsweek's corporate squeamishness, with a passage or two worth quoting here:

"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. It shows in Bush's humor. When Reagan told a joke, it almost never was about someone in the room. Reagan's jokes may have been scatological or politically incorrect, but they were inclusive, intended to make everyone join in the laughter. Often, Bush's joking is personal -- it is aimed at you. The teasing can be flattering (the president gave me a nickname!), but it is intended, however so subtly, to put the listener on the defensive. It is a towel-snap that invites a retort. How many people dare to snap back at a president?"

"...the recorfd so far suggests that Bush is not likely to change in any fundamental way in the three years that remain in his term."

"What Bush actually hears and takes in [understands] is not clear. And whether his advisers are quite as frank as they claim to be with the president is also questionable. Take Social Security, for example. One House Republican, who asked not to be identified for fear of offending the White House, recalls a summertime meeting with congressmen in the Roosevelt Room at which Bush enthusiastically talked up his Social Security reform plan. But the plan was already dead -- as everyone except the president had acknowledged. Bush seemed to have no idea. 'I got the sense that his staff was not telling him the bad news,' says the lawmaker. 'This was not a case of him thinking positive. He just didn't have any idea of the political realities there. It was like he wasn't briefed at all.' "

"In subtle ways, Bush does not encourage truth-telling...."

"...by all accounts, he is not intellectually curious."

"He has long been mothered by strong women, including his mother and wife. A foreign diplomat who declined to be identified was startled when Secretary of State Rice warned him not to lay bad news on the president. 'Don't upset him,' she said."

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