Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Winner of the Stupidest Men Alive Contest

The Stupidest Men Alive contest is over, with one and only one winner. Others just cannot compete--no way, no how.

There is one and only one man ideally situated to be a counselor to America's president. One and only one man who (a) has been president, (b) is still sharp as a tack, (c) wishes George W. Bush well, and (d) knows what it is like to sit in the Oval Office.

Does George W. Bush ask for his advice and counsel? No.

Stupid. Stupid. STUPID. STUPID!! STUPID!!!!! Stupid. Stupid. STUPID. STUPID!! STUPID!!!!! Stupid. Stupid. STUPID. STUPID!! STUPID!!!!! Stupid. Stupid. STUPID. STUPID!! STUPID!!!!! Stupid. Stupid. STUPID. STUPID!! STUPID!!!!! Stupid. Stupid. STUPID. STUPID!! STUPID!!!!! Stupid. Stupid. STUPID. STUPID!! STUPID!!!!! Stupid. Stupid. STUPID. STUPID!! STUPID!!!!! Stupid. Stupid. STUPID. STUPID!! STUPID!!!!!

Every Republican who has not told this clown that he should resign should be profoundly ashamed of him or herself. Every Republican. Every non-Republican too:

Dan Froomkin - Bush Denies Reaching Out to Dad - washingtonpost.com: Even as Washington's punditocracy relishes the storyline of the elder-statesman father riding to the hapless son's rescue, President Bush insisted yesterday that he doesn't talk shop with his dad -- and certainly doesn't ask for his advice.... Here's the transcript and the video.... [W]hen Hume brought up the issue of his father's influence, Bush responded with a forced grin, a clenched fist and a somewhat petulant response: "I'm the commander in chief," he said. And Bush's explanation for why he doesn't talk policy with his dad simply doesn't hold water. "You know, I love my dad," Bush said. "But he understands what I know, that the level of information I have relative to the level of information most other people have, including himself, is significant."

Oh, please. That's obviously not the real reason.

So here are two more-likely possibilities: Either Bush does talk to his dad and doesn't want people to know; or he truly has no interest in what his dad thinks.

The latter still strikes me as the most likely. Bush, after all, remains the son whose actions can be seen in large part as a reaction to his father -- rather than an homage. As Bush biographer Bill Sammon wrote in 2004: "President Bush is resolved not to repeat what he thinks were the two fundamental blunders of his father's one-term presidency: abandoning Iraq and failing to vanquish the Democrats. "In one of several exclusive interviews with the Washington Times, Mr. Bush said his father had 'cut and run early' from Iraq in 1991." But now, with the younger Bush looking so reckless by comparison, the elder Bush -- according to Bob Woodward-- is "in agony, anguished, tormented by the war in Iraq and its aftermath."

The last time Bush spoke publicly about his father was just before the election. As Reuters reported, Bush "gently admonished his father for saying he hates to think what life will be like for his son if the Democrats win control of Congress in the Nov. 7 election. "'He shouldn't be speculating like this, because -- he should have called me ahead of time and I'd tell him they're not going to [win],' a smiling Bush said during an interview broadcast yesterday on the ABC program 'This Week.'" Of course, the elder Bush was right about that one, too....

Here is the relevant excerpt from the Fox News interview, with a few stage directions:

Hume: "The presence of Baker on this commission and the important role he plays, the emergence now of Bob Gates as the Rumsfeld successor, has given rise to a widespread feeling that the men who advised your father are now emerging as critical to you and that your father's influence is all over this."

Bush: "Yeah." [Bush grins, but his raised left fist is clenched tightly.]

Hume: "What do you say to that?"

Bush: "I say that [pause, exasperated shrug] you know, I'm the commander in chief. I make decisions based upon what I think is best to achieve our objectives, and that, uh --" [shakes his head]

Hume: "Was your father involved in the decision to name Gates?"

Bush: [Eyebrows shoot up defensively] "I asked him what kind of man Gates was with him, because of course he knows him."

Hume: "Did he know ahead of time? Ahead of the day? That you were gonna --"

Bush: "No."

Hume: "He didn't."

Bush: "No."

Hume: "A lot of people have been curious -- and I've asked you about this before and the answer fascinates me, so I'll ask it again. The universal expectation would be, your father's a former president, you and your brothers and your sister Doro all adore your father, everybody knows that, one would imagine you would consult him constantly about matters of policy. Is that the case?

Bush: "No. You know, I love my dad. But he understands what I know -- that the level of information I have relative to the level of information most other people have, including himself, is significant and that he trusts me to make decisions.

"I love to talk to my Dad about things between a father and a son, not policy. I get plenty of policy time. I'm interested in talking to a guy I love. And I get inspiration from him as a father, you know.

"Washington can be a tough town at times, and there's nothing better than hearing a loving voice at the end of the phone call occasionally, and so I check in with mother and dad, you know, I would say once every two weeks. I love surprising them with an early morning phone call and saying, you know, how ya doing?

"And of course, they're worried about their son. They're worried about -- they're paying too much attention to the newspapers, I guess."

Bush's "I'm the commander in chief" response is a little reminiscent of his "I'm the decider" riff from back in April.

Both sound a bit defensive. And it's worth noting that the latter comment came about in the midst of what turned out to be a hollow assurance.

"I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation," Bush said at the time. "But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

The other memorable exchange in the interview came when Bush talked about his state of mind. He is apparently neither pained nor burdened by the war in Iraq -- or anything else, for that matter -- thanks to all the people praying for him.

Hume: "I've just spent some time in the company of people who were for you, who are worried about you, just as you described your parents are. They think that your presidency has run aground on the shoals of Iraq and that you must be -- they feel almost sorry for you. What do you say to those people?"

Bush: "Yeah, I don't think people are -- at least the ones I run into -- look, I had a bunch of our buddies from Texas up here this weekend, and they're kind of -- they look at you, and go, man, how come you're still standing? It's not so much the presidency on the shoals because of difficult decisions I made; it's more, the weightiness of this thing must be impossible for anybody to bear. And I tell them it's just not the case, that I'm inspired by doing this job. . . .

"I also remind them, Brit, that Laura and I are sustained by the prayers of millions of people. That's hard for some to, you know, I guess, chew on."

Hume: "You sense that."

Bush: "Absolutely."

Hume: "I know they tell you that, when you see them out on the hustings. But do you sense that?"

Bush: "I feel it."

Hume: "You feel it."

Bush: "Yeah. Because the load is not heavy, I guess is the best way to describe it. Look, somebody said to me, prove it. I said you can't prove it. All I can tell you is I feel it. And it's a remarkable country when millions pray for me and Laura. So therefore I'm able to say to people, that this is a joyful experience, not a painful experience. And yeah it's tough, but that's okay. It's tough times."

Hume's One Tough Question

Hume: "You have said on a number of occasions that your view of the shape and mission of U.S. forces day by day in Iraq, week by week, is based on what General Abizaid and, more specifically, General Casey say, that this has been kind of a Casey and Abizaid approach. Is that a fair assessment?"

Bush: "I have said that the force size will depend upon conditions on the ground and upon the recommendations of our commanders on the ground, absolutely."

Hume: "Is it fair to say, then, that the approach in Iraq has been more a reflection of what Casey and Abizaid wanted than of anybody else over there? Or anybody else in the military?"

Bush: "I think from the military tactics that they are the chain of command through Rumsfeld to me."

Hume: "Right."

Bush: "Now they listen to all kinds of people on the ground and they are very thoughtful, decent, honorable men, who understand that -- what the mission is and understand that it is their obligation to design the tactics to achieve the mission."

Hume: "It is -- it does the raise the question though, Mr. President, if they're the guys who've been designing and trying to execute the mission and you're impatient with the progress, why is it that Rumsfeld's going and they're staying?"

Bush: "Well, they also are impatient with the progress, just like Secretary Rumsfeld is. And he came to the same conclusion that I came to, that it was time to get fresh eyes in the Pentagon on the issue. And I strongly support his past tenure and I appreciate his service to the country."

That answer, of course, is completely nonresponsive.

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