A Presidency gone horribly wrong

George W. Bush has never really grasped the reality of his failures but, as his doomed Presidency draws to a close, he is uncharacteristically seeking advice from others, trying at least to understand where it all went wrong.

The President is hosting a series of private meetings with authors, historians, philosophers and others in what many see as a too-late attempt to understand his many failures in office.

Yet even in defeat Bush remains typically arrogant and upbeat, convinced that his decisions are the right ones even when the rest of the world — and even those in his own party — disagree.

Bush remains what he has always been — arrogant, delusional and unbowed.

Writes Peter Baker of The Washington Post:

At the nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush is looking for answers. One at a time or in small groups, he summons leading authors, historians, philosophers and theologians to the White House to join him in the search.

Over sodas and sparkling water, he asks his questions: What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I’m facing? How will history judge what we’ve done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?

These are the questions of a president who has endured the most drastic political collapse in a generation. Not generally known for intellectual curiosity, Bush is seeking out those who are, engaging in a philosophical exploration of the currents of history that have swept up his administration. For all the setbacks, he remains unflinching, rarely expressing doubt in his direction, yet trying to understand how he got off course.

These sessions, usually held in the Oval Office or the elegant living areas of the executive mansion, are never listed on the president’s public schedule and remain largely unknown even to many on his staff. To some of those invited to talk, Bush seems alone, isolated by events beyond his control, with trusted advisers taking their leave and erstwhile friends turning on him.

“You think about prime ministers and presidents being surrounded by cabinet officials and aides and so forth,” said Alistair Horne, a British historian who met with Bush recently. “But at the end of the day, they’re alone. They’re lonely. And that’s what occurred to me as I was at the White House. It must be quite difficult for him to get out and about.”

Friends worry about that as well. Burdened by an unrelenting war, challenged by an opposition Congress, defeated just last week on immigration, his last major domestic priority, Bush remains largely locked inside the fortress of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in the seventh year of a presidency turned sour. He still travels, making speeches to friendly audiences and attending summit meetings, such as this weekend’s Kennebunkport talks with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. But he rarely goes out to dinner, and he no longer plays golf, except occasionally chipping at Camp David, where, as at his Texas ranch, he can find refuge.

“I don’t know how he copes with it,” said Donald Burnham Ensenat, a friend for 43 years who just stepped down as State Department protocol officer. Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), another longtime friend who once worked for Bush, said he looks worn down. “It’s a marked difference in his physical appearance,” Conaway said. “It’s an incredibly heavy load. When you ask men and women to take risks, to send them into war knowing they might not come home, that’s got to be an incredible burden to have on your shoulders.”

Bush is fixated on Iraq, according to friends and advisers. One former aide went to see him recently to discuss various matters, only to find Bush turning the conversation back to Iraq again and again. He recognizes that his presidency hinges on whether Iraq can be turned around in 18 months. “Nothing matters except the war,” said one person close to Bush. “That’s all that matters. The whole thing rides on that.”

Comments

  1. Carl Nemo

    Spot-on Asta concerning his success relative to the neocon/businessman’s agenda! Sometime back I mentioned he’s a virtual “El Cid” to them; i.e, Warrior Lord and Savior concerning their NWO/MIC/AIPAC goals and “El Diablo” to “we the people” not only in America but to the world in general.

    Nemo **==

  2. Dayahka

    Jefferson’s comments about his own presidency stand in such sharp contrast to what George W. Bush would say, were he an honest and upright man. Thanks be to god, says Jefferson, that Napoleon [here substitute George W. Bush]…is at length chained to his rock, where the vulture for remorse for his crimes will be preying on his vitals…Jefferson goes on: Having been, like him, intrusted with the happiness of my country, I feel the blessing of resembling him in no other point. I have not caused the death of five or ten millions of human beings [at least a million in Iraq], the devastation of other countries [Iraq, the USA],…the exhaustion of all its resources, the destruction of its liberties,…

    Whether now or in the future, surely the current half-inch president will reflect on his dismal record and puke for having thought he could march to the same drummer as did Jefferson or any of the other presidents.

  3. Dayahka

    Jefferson’s comments about his own presidency stand in such sharp contrast to what George W. Bush would say, were he an honest and upright man. Thanks be to god, says Jefferson, that Napoleon [here substitute George W. Bush]…is at length chained to his rock, where the vulture for remorse for his crimes will be preying on his vitals…Jefferson goes on: Having been, like him, intrusted with the happiness of my country, I feel the blessing of resembling him in no other point. I have not caused the death of five or ten millions of human beings [at least a million in Iraq], the devastation of other countries [Iraq, the USA],…the exhaustion of all its resources, the destruction of its liberties,…

    Whether now or in the future, surely the current half-inch president will reflect on his dismal record and puke for having thought he could march to the same drummer as did Jefferson or any of the other presidents.

  4. kent shaw

    I do not believe the generals and the admirals will allow this asshole to unleash nuclear weapons. Beyond that all we can do is wait him out until 11/2008. He has no “legacy”. He is horrid and putrid. Many more American soldiers will die. Can’t do anything about that. Sucks. Reality bites. To hell with you, Bush. You are beneath contempt.

  5. Carl Nemo

    Bush doesn’t have a clue as to what true leadership is about. He thinks of leadership as an authoritarian, dictatorial paradigm that has no place in America.

    The simple fact is that modern leadership is very complex and one mind alone cannot always come up with the best decision but must depend upon consensus from the finest minds available in various disciplines. A good leader must truly “listen” to these advisors with their advice balanced against the well-being of his constituents; i.e., “we the people”, and what’s best for them. He then makes the final decision as to what is the best path predicated on the aforementioned inputs. The Presidency of the U.S. is no place for a petty, egomaniacal persona surrounded by toady sycophants…! The world is far too dangerous in these times for the likes of George Bush at the helm.

    I don’t care to understand this mattoid, all I want is to see him out of the Whitehouse asap his hand no longer on the nuclear trigger and his less than sterling intellect no longer involved with strategic policy.

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. Charlie Couser

    You reap what you sow!

    When a presidency is based on a pack of lies, as is the Dubya’s, one can only expect it to eventually collapse under its weight. It just very sad the Dubya’s failures weren’t recognized before the 2004 elections.

    Bush doesn’t need to ponder how history will treat his failed, despotic presidency. His legacy will always be his illegal invasion of Iraq. The blood of his innocent victims will drip from his murderous hands for all eternity.

    A tyrant is as a tyrant does!

    I hope I’m there when he meets his Maker!

    Charlie Couser

  7. JoshuasGrandma

    I think this assessment is unbelievably correct – particularly in why the Democrats won’t impeach. Recall how many times Bush says ‘I’m the Decider’ as though he has to keep convincing himself that he is. He is truly floundering because he has never had to experience the consequences of his failure behavior and now there is no one to pull him out, step in and fix it. His dad tried with the Iraq Study group, but in a customary fit of adolescent arrogance, he decided to ‘go it alone’ and made another monumental screwup. Maybe the reality is beginning to sink in and these next months will be deservedly painful. Impeachment would only give him another ‘out’ he doesn’t deserve.

  8. kent shaw

    NO! “WE” did NOT vote for Bush! Al Gore, who surely would have been an awful president, won the popular vote by more than 600,000. There were many irregularities that occurred on election day in Florida in 2000, including state police sealing off black neighborhoods, no one allowed in or out, while they looked for people on their most wanted lists. Why election day? Could it have been because blacks traditionally vote democratic, and brother Jeb used the state cops to help insure victory for little Georgie? The Supreme Court should have refused to hear the case in 2000, but voted Bush into office. Both 2000 and 2004 were STOLEN elections.

  9. Sandra Price

    You are right JerryG. We have what we voted for. WE look again to see who voted for Bush and it all comes down to the work of Pat Robertson and the apathy of the rest of the voters. I had no candidate so I wrote in P.J. O’Rourke again. Damnit. bring me a candidate I’ll take anything but what I saw on that GOP Debate.

  10. JerryG

    The Bush Presidency is the epitome of the danger of electorate apathy. I dare say this is the President we deserve. The Bush faithfuls will stand with him come hell or high water (pun intended). Why? I can only suppose that it’s because he never got a “bj” in the Oval Office and then “lied”. Not really, but, what’s the point. After all, everything that can possibly be said about this enigmatic Presidency has already been said!

  11. jbaspen

    He’s the worst possible example of the Eastern WASP Aristocracy. Many of those kids are well disciplined, smart people. But sometimes a spoiled runt gets a number of priviledged plums handed to him (e.g., college, graduate school, a great job). But Bush is an example of priviledge gone wild! He’s been backstopped so many times,- and pratically EVERYTHING handed to him – that he has no idea that life has consequences for terrible decisionmaking. The people backstopping him now are lower middle and working class kids who are dying for Bush’s gross stupidity!

    As the political historian Kevin Phillips stated last year, Bush would have made a great Vice-President of the Bank of Amarillo. But a spoiled wastrel like this as President of the USA? It was mindblowing in 01′, and it’s still mindblowing today!

  12. LurkingFromTheLeft

    …sadly, I just returned from walking my dog – and no we didn’t see Toto –

    …and I found THAT piece of crap in my email alerts – Dumbass Commutes Scooter’s Sentence –

    …okay – if this doesn’t light a fire under the LAZYasses and STUPIDasses in DC, WTF will? –

    …yep, another sign the end is coming – near – and probabaly already here –

    LFLT

  13. Asta

    Why does anyone think this administration has gone horribly wrong?

    It has gone according to plan. It’s been a wild success for the NeoCons.

    If someone out there has Christopher Hitchens’ book “God is Not Good”, please quote the passage about the young child who is obsessed with the little fits of destroying everything for the sake of destruction.

    This young child is our president, and he destroys things. Despite the fact that his office affords him the capacity and the ability to create, he cannot do so. He can only destroy.

  14. incog99

    BUSH Pardons Scooter!!

    Now is this failed President saying it is OK to lie to Federal investigators?

    What a precedent.

    Sad day for this country.

  15. Sandra Price

    Can somebody please tell me why Bush and Cheney are not being impeached? How much more damage can they do before the people pressure the Congress to rid us of them in the White House?

  16. DejaVuAllOver

    If I were God, I’d take Dubya and his followers, the neocons and the zionists, and make them all three inches tall. Give ’em a chance to survive, but let them feel what it must be like to be an Iraqi or a Palestinian or Mexican immigrant. Besides, it would be a lot of fun watching kharma at work.

  17. andrew

    Sorry but I can’t muster an ounce of empathy or sympathy for Georgie boy. We have had an overgrown, utterly spoiled, psychotic out of control child playing at being a man at the helm. Who was, by the way elected by the Supreme Court, not We The People for “president”.

    And have ended up with Darth Cheney as the real “president”. Barf!!! Now the whole mess is unraveling fast.

    In my opinion, it’s way too late for the Chimp in Thief to be talking to anyone about where it all went wrong for him. There is nothing he could say or do at this point to ever win back the trust and respect of the American people. We are the most hated nation in the world, as well as the laughingstock of the world. We The People have been sold out and sold into virtual economic slavery.We have been lied to and played for fools in the worst of ways for way too long.

    Time for Georgie to pack it up and go home.

  18. SEAL

    The difference between Bush now and Bush six months ago is that he is no longer surrounded by enablers. Bush has no talents or special abilities that would qualify him to be a leader of anything. If you look at his history, he has never accomplished anything on his own other than failure. The republican political machine sold him to enough of the public to get the elections in a position where they could use their connections to install him as the president.

    The whole point was to have a “image” president for the public to focus on who was clueless enough that he would not interfere with the real presidency of Cheney and the neocon agenda. It was the perfect set up until the last election that removed the enablers that rubber stamped everything. Now, Bush has to actually be a president and make decisions. But he has no ability to negotiate or work with other people. All he has ever done is give orders and ignore the rules everyone else has to live by. Those days are over.

    Bush has always been able to get away with failure. But, as the President of the United States he cannot hide, there is no one to bail him out, he is having to take the responsibility for the mess that has been created and come up with answers or solutions. He is desparate.

    His “surge” is nothing but a desparate attempt to salvage victory in Iraq, a country and people he has absolutely no understanding of. He knows he cannot withdraw our troops and leave the country to the Iraqis because we would lose the oil. He is acutely aware of the reason why we are there. But that is all he knows. Cheney has been making all the decisions, he is responsible for the conditions in Iraq. Conditions deliberately designed to fuel a continuing conflict that generates profits for the MIC.

    Now, the jig is up. The people of the our country have stated they will no longer tolerate the waste of money and death of our soldiers. But it is Bush who must take the blame. He is the president. The democrats know Cheney is the man and they know how incompetent Bush is. But you don’t impeach the executive branch of the government during a war that was instigated under false pretense. That sends a message to the other nations that the US has made a horrible mistake. That we allowed criminals to commit crimes against humanity. There is no way any congress would do that.

    The only alternative for congress is to “go to war” with the executive branch and wrest control of the government from them. That explains their actions of late and why Bush is stumbling around in confusion. He has no clue how to handle not being able to do as he damn well pleases and he may be realizing that he will end in disgrace if his surge is not allowed to play out and be successfull. Of course, the democrats will not allow that. They want Bush to fail and take the republican party down with him.

    Don’t be surprised if Cheney resigns in a few months “for health reasons.” That will leave Bush all alone to face the music and it would be a very good idea to have someone experienced in the mental health field with him at all times. Bush may start blowing up frogs again.

  19. Cheshirekatz

    Mr. President does not care 2 figs about what we think of him. He is merely following the advice of his PR hacks/handlers who are probably looking for an historian willing to sell his soul to the Dark Side and write nice things about the most venal and murderous administration that was ever not elected to office. Mr. President is not smart enough to worry about how much he will be despised by this country as the true cost of his presidency comes due. But it doesn’t matter. He and his buddies will have stolen enough money from the American people that the USA will be too broke and starving (not to mention dead from either wars or lack of health care) to worry about him anyway.

  20. www.nazilieskill.us

    It’s a little late to seek information, when you have nothing bout contempt for people with wisdom.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  21. Bill Jonke

    Well, I guess there’s some consolation for him; he gets to eat Maine lobster and marinated swordfish at the family bunker in Kennebunkport, ME.

    It’s a case of the parasitic family killing off the innocent animals this time.