Bush, The Diminishing President
Read this from the Post's Richard Cohen today, and remember that Cohen was saying nice things about George W. Bush and not-so-nice things about Kerry during the spring. Cohen's point all along has been that Bush, regardless of whether you liked him or not, was a relatively steadying force in the commander-in-chief's job at a time when steadiness and leadership were essential. Now, after watching the debates, Cohen has concluded that Bush has actually diminished in the job to the point that you aren't sure what you have anymore.
We can argue about this until the sun goes down. Many would argue that Cohen was duped into thinking Bush was something special that he never was. But the debates have clearly shown Bush to be a man of limited or no growth in the job, who takes no responsibility for error, who possesses a closed, rigid mind without curiosity for the real world around him, and who it turns out is a rather ordinary man at a time when the country needs more. Just as important, and most importantly, Bush suffered from the same thing Gore did four years ago: an inconsistent, agitated, and uneven behavior during the debates at a time when his alleged steadiness was supposed to be his advantage over the challenger.
Which takes us back to where we were several months ago when we discussed around these parts Kerry's end-game strategy of being The Last Man Standing. Again, Kerry never was trying to be the guy you wanted to have a beer or backyard BBQ with. He only wanted to get on the same stage with the alleged wartime leader who has operated in a sheltered enviromment since 9/11, and let voters do some comparison shopping. Kerry wants voters to see that their choice is between the Real Bush, who ultimately is nothing more than an empty suit that Rove and the compliant media helped create, and the more presidential, real Kerry that Rove and the media had kept hidden until this month. And now guys like Cohen, who are representative of the mainstream Beltway media, are finally noticing that they have been wrong up until now.