Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 16, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

DECONSTRUCTING GEORGE BUSH....James Joyner thinks George Bush is a genuine man of the people:

The reason Bush can pull off the image of "he is a plain-spoken conservative who knows his mind and is resolute in crisis" is because that's who he is. He's not very comfortable with a teleprompter in front of him and isn't particularly good at news conferences. He is, however, quite comfortable just speaking his mind in front of ordinary folks.

But this isn't quite right, is it? Bush seems to be pretty good at chatting with handpicked groups of fervent supporters who have to sign loyalty oaths in order to see him, but it's not clear that he's otherwise all that great in front of small groups. In fact, he seems downright lousy at dealing with anyone who's hostile to him senators, reporters, foreign leaders, you name it and since this is an important part of being president it strikes me as a pretty serious deficiency.

Now, it is true that he's a "plain-spoken conservative who knows his mind," but you can find one of those at any neighborhood watering hole. And that pretty much describes George Bush: a man who picked up his opinions in a bar 30 years ago and has never gone much beyond that. After all, guys in bars also know their minds pretty well and want everyone else to know it, don't they?

Along these lines, Ron Brownstein makes a similar point today: by mocking John Kerry for not saying unequivocally that he would have invaded Iraq no matter what, Bush is acting like a guy in a bar who just wants to kick Saddam's ass and will lick any man in the house who says otherwise. After all, what kind of nitwit, knowing for a fact in advance that Iraq had no WMD, no serious ties to al-Qaeda, posed no regional threat, and would chew up thousands of American lives in a years-long guerrilla war, would invade anyway? A guy in a bar.

Alternatively, Matt Yglesias goes old school on us and suggests that it's simpler than that: Bush is just kind of dumb. I guess we all had him pegged correctly back in 2000 after all.

Kevin Drum 1:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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