Resolute In His Crusade
As Bush nears the end of his failed presidency, we can expect more and more attempts from friendly editors to buff his final months with stories like these. Today’s Post has a long piece by Peter Baker, which tells us that Bush is fixated on what to do about Iraq; that he is having philosophical discussions about good versus evil in a post-9/11 world; and that he is resolute, serene, and at peace with himself.
Most of the people quoted for attribution in the story say neutral or flattering things about Bush’s perseverance, and yet none of them have actually worked in this White House. It is left to his former staff and several Hill aides to talk negatively about the president or his administration.
We are told Bush is reading books and is more intelligent than people assume.
Amid the tumult, the president has sought refuge in history. He read three books last year on George Washington, read about the Algerian war of independence and the exploitation of Congo, and lately has been digging into "Troublesome Young Men," Lynne Olson's account of Conservative backbenchers who thrust Winston Churchill to power. Bush idolizes Churchill and keeps a bust of him in the Oval Office.
After reading Andrew Roberts's "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900," Bush brought in the author and a dozen other scholars to talk about the lessons. "What can I learn from history?" Bush asked Roberts, according to Stelzer, the Hudson Institute scholar, who participated.
Yet where was Iraq in that book list? He is more comfortable reading histories about dead leaders and wars from decades and centuries ago, than he is in reading critiques and analyses on the mess right under his nose that he created. Bush is looking for historical inspiration and confirmation of the correctness of his decisions, rather than criticisms and enlightenment by well-informed people on Iraq or the Middle East. Did you notice a single book written by a scholar, journalist, or Iraqi that might force Bush to confront the mess he has made? No.
But we do learn that theologian Michael Novak praises Bush for ignoring criticism and answering to God. By inference, mere mortals will not be able to shake him from his messianic drive to do what he thinks is right, no matter how many other folks' sons and daughters are killed in the crusade. Baker tosses this part of the essay out there and keeps moving, as if it is no more important that Bush’s reading list. But if a man feels he only reports to God and is unconcerned about contemporary judgment and criticism, should that not merit more attention than how resolute, serene, and confident he is?