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Blind, Blinkered Bush

Maureen Dowd is back.  My favorite newspaper columnist has been on leave from the New York Times, ostensibly working on a book.  I've been a fan of her writing for years -- whether I agree with her or not, I always love the way she expresses herself.  She's got a sharp, sarcastic, very witty style that makes use of lots of clever word games to make her points.  Frequently, that leads her into hyperbole and rhetorical exaggeration, but the results are so fun that it's worth it.

Today's column addresses the case of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, who is camped out near W's ranch, insisting that she's going to stay there until he comes out to talk to her.  She wants to tell him face-to-face that it's time to bring the troops home.  (Sidebar: As much as I despise this war and revile the idiots who blindly pushed us into it, I am not in favor of an immediate withdrawal.)

As Dowd points out, the most baffling thing about the incident is why my president doesn't have "the elementary shrewdness to ... simply walk down the driveway to hear her out, or invite her in for a cup of tea."  He doesn't have to agree with her, for crying out loud, but you would think that simple political calculation (if not human decency) would dictate something other than sending out a couple of suits while the spokesman says that Bush doesn't have to meet with her because he already met with her along with a group of other bereaved parents some months ago.  I guess she'd have to have another son or daughter killed in order to score a second handshake.

In the run-up to the war, I was channel flipping one night, and came across an MTV Europe station.  Tony Blair was sitting casually in a studio talking with a dozen or so teenagers.  They were asking him tough questions.  It was very clearly unscripted.  And he was very carefully, politely and thoughtfully answering their questions.  The show went on for something like ninety minutes.  He wasn't persuading all of the kids, and I don't think he imagined that he would.  But he knew that he owed it to them to explain himself.  I thought longingly of what it might be like to live in a country where my president thought he owed that to the people he supposedly serves.

But the disdain that W and his crew feel for the American public has been evident since the early days of his first campaign.   And the longer that his imperial presidency lasts, the more obvious it becomes.  His hissy fit at Carol Coleman, the Irish reporter who dared to challenge him last year, the faces that he pulled during the first debate with Kerry, his obvious frustration when he mouths his platitudes and can't understand why people don't automatically fall in line just because he says so...  It just gets worse and worse.

The most recent polls show an increasing number of Americans feeling that W is not honest and that his "forthrightness" is really arrogance.  Too bad they didn't pick up on that sooner.  We always get the president that we deserve.


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