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The President: On Soma--or in a Coma?

12.02.2005 08:07 | DISPATCHES

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson, who's set a new benchmark for administration turncoats, says President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of post-war planning.

In "Bush's Shrinking Safety Zone," the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin writes:

"[Bush's] aides intentionally keep him mentally and physically aloof from any ugliness--political or otherwise. It lets them keep tight control over the presidential imagery and stay on message."

After Bush's speech at the Naval Academy Wednesday the New York Times commented, in an editorial no less:

"A president who seems less in touch with reality than Richard Nixon needs to get out more."

Most damning of all, in "Up in the Air" (the New Yorker, December 5), Seymour Hersh quotes a former defense official:

"[The President] had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney [pre-Fitzgerald --Ed.]. 'They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway. . .'"

Great. Bush fancies himself a philosopher-king, who no longer must soil himself with the salt of the earth. At first, the one positive that could be drawn from his "election" in 2000 was that the US, once and for all, had finally outgrown its infatuation with royalty and aristocracy.

Patrician types like John Kerry start out with two strikes against them. Franklin Roosevelt, not to mention Washington or Jefferson, might not even make it out of the electoral starting gate today. Also lost in the wash, however, is intellect. Not only do we shy away from those of a higher station, but those of greater intelligence.

The times are way too challenging for the US to do the Ronald Reagan-figurehead thing anymore. We need a president who's engaged, like even Richard Nixon (if a little too invested, as they say, per recently released White House tapes).

Meanwhile, also post-speech, the Village Voice's James Ridgeway wrote:

"To listen to Bush is to enter a dream world."

Has there ever been a president with less interest in presiding? George Bush: Man of a thousand dream jobs--oil company owner, fighter pilot (actually, he liked that one), principal owner of a baseball team, governor, president--and all he could do was dream his way through them.


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