The recent, testy exchange between our president and Virginia's Senator-elect Jim Webb raises an interesting question about Bush's state of mind.
Either he doesn't care that the majority of Americans don't agree with him — or he doesn't know. I think it's the latter.
Something's wrong. Bush is out of touch with reality. And I don't think he wants to be president anymore, either, because suddenly people are saying upsetting things to him.
For those who don't recall the Webb-Bush conversation, which took place at a recent White House reception, Bush asked Webb, "How's your boy?"
Webb's "boy" is a Marine serving in Iraq. Webb answered, "I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President."
Bush got snarly at that. "That's not what I asked you," he said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy," Webb said.
Webb got the blame for this banter-gone-bad. Some even described him as rude.
Rude? Since when is it rude to remind the man who has put your child in danger that it's time to bring the troops home from a pointless war? Rude?
Well, perhaps it seemed rude to Bush because he's unaware that most of us think he's made a mess in Iraq. Maybe he thinks Webb is the rare exception.
After all, he doesn't read newspapers. And he seems to think the mid-term election results were a joke, as though his frat house got beaten in a drinking match against another frat house, all in good fun.
And he seems to think we still have a mission to "complete" in Iraq (as opposed to the one we already "accomplished"). This, despite last week's Iraq Study Group report, which was a stunning indictment of the president's war. It's not outside the realm of possibility that Bush hasn't even bothered to read it.
And there is other evidence that he's really not all there. Consider:
s"‡He recently named Dr. Erik Keroack — a vocal opponent of family planning — to the government post in charge of "¦ family planning. What mission is he trying to accomplish here? Operation Virgin?
s"‡He was actually stunned that Congress had no plans to reappoint John Bolton to the sensitive post of ambassador to the United Nations — an organization Bolton has contempt for. Bush, who personally opposes diplomacy himself, said Congress' failure to endorse Bolton "disrupts our diplomatic work." What's that? Operation Bull in a China Shop?
s"‡His White House lawyers are now arguing before the Supreme Court against taking steps to address global warming. His argument? That the danger is not imminent, so the government has no obligation to address it. Operation Change the Coastline?
I don't know what's wrong with the guy, but none of this suggests he's connecting to reality.
He reminds me of a character in a short story I once read about a CEO who never appears in public. An employee wants to meet him, so he sneaks into the house where he finds the CEO in a playroom, riding a rocking horse. The guy is entirely out of his mind but quite happy in his own simple way.
At least in the story, the CEO had a benevolent, competent staff running the business for him.
There are 771 days left until Jan. 20, 2009. Hang in there, America!
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