Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

December 27, 2006

Ignatius' New Narrative: Bush in Pain

Shorter David Ignatius: poor George, he aches.

Bush is not a man for introspection. That's part of his flinty personality -- the tight, clipped answers and the forced jocularity of the nicknames he gives to reporters and White House aides. That's why this version of reality TV is so poignant: This very private man has begun to talk out loud about the emotional turmoil inside. He is letting it bleed.
Poignant? Letting it bleed? Groan.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the Times writes something similar.

So that's the new media narrative: Bush "the resolute" is now Bush "the tormented".

For pete's sake, when will the D.C. punditry quit projecting their romanticized fantasies on the guy and listen to what he actually says?

People's interviewer also mentioned that readers had asked if he takes sleep aids. Bush said generally not, but he does occasionally when he travels.

"I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume," he said.
After that cringing display of sentimentality, Ignatius further embarrasses himself:

Bush's "state of denial," as Bob Woodward rightly called it, has officially ended. He actually spoke the words "We're not winning" last week in an interview with The Post, coupling it with the reverse: "We're not losing." But in truth, he cannot abide the possibility that Iraq will not end in victory. So a day after his "not winning" comment, he half took it back, saying: "I believe that we're going to win," and then adding oddly, as if to reassure himself: "I believe that -- and by the way, if I didn't think that, I wouldn't have our troops there. That's what you've got to know. We're going to succeed."
How could Bush's state of denial be "officially ended" if he actually backtracked in the same breath and took the whole thing back the following day? Can this piece be any more preposterous?

If you say no, think again:

Policy debates in this White House are often described as battles between competing advisers -- Dick Cheney wants this; the Joint Chiefs favor that; Condi Rice favors a third outcome. This kind of analysis implies that Bush isn't really master of his own house, but I think it's a big mistake. The truth is that with this president, the only opinion that finally matters is his own. And he's a stubborn man. Military leaders can tell him it's a mistake to surge troops into Baghdad, but that doesn't mean he will listen.

Bush says he doesn't care what happens now to his poll numbers, and I believe him. He broke through the political barriers a while ago. I sense that, as he anguishes about Iraq, he has in mind the judgment of future historians.
After all the layers of sympathetic mewing, we get to the core truth: Bush is an irrationally obstinate man who is arrogantly certain that the history books will vindicate him in the end. There is no teeth gnashing and hand wringing here. If there was, he wouldn't be contemplating a surge, nay, an escalation nearly 4 years into this war, after hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and 2,978 U.S. troops -- five more than the victims of 9/11 -- are killed in Iraq. Yet Ignatius ignores that, and instead of laying the continuing disaster that is Iraq at Bush's feet, he paints a sympathetic caricature of a man going through an agonizing tug-of-war.

Ignatius ends his op-ed with this insensitive paragraph:

What makes reality TV gripping is that it's all happening live -- the contestants make their choices under pressure, win or lose. So too with Bush. He is making a vast wager -- of American lives, treasure and the nation's security -- that his judgments about Iraq were right. The Baker-Hamilton report gave him a chance to take some chips off the table, but Bush doesn't seem interested. He is still playing to win. The audience is shouting out advice, but the man under the spotlight knows he will have to make this decision alone.
Jeebus. You would think he's talking of an episode of Deal or No Deal instead of, you know, a bloody frakkin' war. I'm at a loss for words.

posted at 10:14 PM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
(Dare to Know)
-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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