Friday, August 26, 2005

The President Won’t See You Now

[[M E D I A]] * I often interview authors, and I like to ask them some variation of: If you could have written any book that doesn’t currently have your name on the cover, which would it be? I find myself today wishing that I could take authorship not of a book, but of a single column: Bruce Reed’s latest installment of “The Has Been,” in Slate. In “It’s Not About the Mountain Bike,” Reed, President Clinton’s former domestic advisor and president of the Democratic Leadership Council, writes, in part:

Groundhog Day Off: George Bush desperately wants history to remember him as the Sept. 11 President. In speeches, he sounds like a wartime Bill Murray, who wakes up every morning only to find that it is still 9/11.

That’s more or less what the country wanted: a commander in chief who’d worry about the war on terror so we didn’t have to. These days, however, Bush doesn’t look like a Sept. 11 President at all. With each passing day, he acts more like the last thing the country wanted: an August President, who leaves all the worrying to us.

August is the siesta month, when we shut down our brains, head on holiday, and spend money while doing nothing to earn it. We go back and forth between a deep desire to squeeze in every last moment of idle repose, and a vague sense of dread about what lies in store.

In other words, we spend August the way George Bush has spent his presidency.

Bush’s August fetish is most visible now, when he’s wrapping up another record-breaking vacation. Yet in many respects, the entire Bush term has been a kind of record-breaking vacation. First president to
cut taxes in wartime. First president to go five years without a single veto. Largest surplus squandered; largest deficits left behind.

After all that work, you can see why a guy might want some time off.

Easy Rider: As Lance Armstrong would say, it’s not about the mountain bike. My problem isn’t what Bush does on vacation; it’s that he runs the country like it’s on holiday.

Bush’s approach to most problems--from economic competitiveness to political reform to health care--is the same as his answer to Cindy Sheehan: We’re at war, I don’t have time to see you now. Yet the narrowness and lack of inspiration of his approach to the broader struggle against terror suggest that he is giving the war the same answer.
I strongly encourage you to read the whole piece.

ADDENDUM: Ever wonder how right-wingers come up with some of their logic? Blogenlust presents a so-true-it’s-funny list of rules “intended to help you make sense of the nonsensical.”

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