Bush: A Victim of His Own Character (Or Lack of It)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bush: A Victim of His Own Character (Or Lack of It)

Conservatives talk a lot about character. As George W. Bush's presidency appears to be teetering on the brink, the Atlantic Monthly's Jack Beatty examines the source of this train wreck and concludes that W's achilles heel has been character(or the lack thereof). From the magazine's Oct. 20 issue:
Compassionate conservativism? A "humble" foreign policy? A new relationship with Mexico? The policy "facts" were by no means uniformly deplorable. Certainly they didn't predict the disasters of the Bush presidency.

But character did. The predictive facts were right there, in Bush's biography ... A reservist pilot who failed to report for duty, a failed politician, a serial failure in business until his dad, then vice president, intervened with the commissioner of baseball to get him taken in as a "partner" in the Texas Rangers, "W" misplayed winning hands and fumbled golden opportunities.

And those words fit his post-9/11 actions as well. A winning hand --the country's support for the war in Afghanistan. A golden opportunity -- the world's sympathy for the U.S. and cooperation in the "war on terror." Lost, fumbled, trashed.

... Bush finally holds a job from which he can't fail up.

... Character, for the Greeks, was destiny. What you did you would do. Your past predicted your future. Yet, by the conventions of political reporting, the "character issue" means naughtiness รก la Clinton. The Greek sense of character, familiar from literature and modern psychiatry, is typically ignored.

... "I'm all name and no money," Bush said in a 1986 interview. If his name was just George Walker he might have gone to jail for insider trading.

Al Hunt, the estimable Wall Street Journal columnist, might have slugged him for his drunken obscenity-laced tirade at a Washington restaurant in front of Hunt's wife and four-year-old son—several years after Bush claims he stopped drinking.

His father owned the name that spared W the consequences of his actions. From which Bush learned, Go ahead, mess up. Daddy will fix everything. For a future President there can't be a worse life lesson than that.

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