Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Reality Used to be a Friend of Mine

Once again, in my ultra-hipster way, I reference PM Dawn; it's surprising how often this title applies when talking about politics.

Anyway Bruce Bartlett's latest article for Townhall is, believe it or not, about how the President may be disconnected from the world outside his window.
Written by veteran reporters Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe, the Newsweek story confirms reports we have heard for the last five years about Bush's disinterest in the policy process or even the day-to-day politicking that ordinarily goes with the job. He dislikes meeting with members of Congress, is not a big consumer of news that does not come to him through official channels and relies almost exclusively on a small cluster of close aides, ignoring his Cabinet and the rest of the federal establishment.

The result is that Bush appears to live in a sort of fantasy world utterly divorced from reality. For example, Newsweek quotes a senior Republican congressman -- unnamed for fear of White House retaliation -- who was astounded in a meeting with Bush about Social Security at how out-of-touch he was with the political prospects for his reform plan. The congressman and everyone else in the room knew the plan was dead, yet Bush went on and on as if it were on the brink of enactment.
Hmmmmm. That doesn't sound good. It's also unusual that Townhall (very conservative) would print such a critique of President Bush. Complaining that he isn't conservative enough is one thing; you sort of have to expect that. But complaints about his basic disengagement are something entirely different.

If the Bush Administration is deemed a failure, which seems possible, the Republican Party is going to want President Bush to own the failure. The failure will be due to his own mental state and decisions and not due to conservatism or Republicanism. This strategy won't work entirely (people still blamed Carters or Clinton's failings on Democrats as a whole, same with Nixon and Gingrich), but it might help soften the blow. I don't know if that's what Bartlett is doing here; but, well, I assume some Republicans are thinking about the future.

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