[N]o one who knows George H.W. Bush thinks that moment was only about Jeb....She goes on to speculate about the younger Bush's feelings:
Surely Mr. Bush knew--surely he was first on James Baker's call list--that the report would not, could not, offer a way out of a national calamity, but only suggestions, hopes, on ways through it. To know his son George had (with the best of intentions!) been wrong in the great decision of his presidency--stop at Afghanistan or move on to Iraq?--and was now suffering a defeat made clear by the report; to love that son, and love your country, to hold these thoughts, to have them collide and come together--this would bring not only tears, but more than tears.
He has been shorn of much--his place in the winner's circle, old advisers. A man who worked for Richard Nixon reminded me the other night that when Nixon fired Haldeman and Ehrlichman, "he lost his asbestos suit." He lost his primary protectors and loyalists. President Bush is now without a similar layer. Old staffers gone, Rumsfeld gone, Cheney marginalized, Condi and Karen off representing. And the ISG. And the loss of Congress.Why hasn't the ordeal registered on George W. Bush's face? His foes would, I think, say it's a sign of his idiocy. He's too shallow and witless to have processed the information. His fans must think it's depth of character (if not divine inspiration). Peggy says:
And yet the president presents himself each day in his chesty way, with what seems a jarring peppiness.
It is part of the Bush conundrum--a supernal serenity or a confidence born of cluelessness? You decide. Where you stand on the war will likely determine your answer. But I'll tell you, I wonder about it and do not understand it, either what it is or what it means. I'd ask someone in the White House, but they're still stuck in Rote Talking Point Land: The president of course has moments of weariness but is sustained by his knowledge of the ultimate rightness of his course . . .I haven't heard an "outsourcing" joke in a while. Not that that's really a joke. It's nothing all that special for parents to suffer for their children. Once our children are not babies anymore, we have to release them into the world and see what happens. It's a dangerous thing about having children. It's like having a second body that can experience pain, but you can't control what that body does. You can't avoid that pain. But your suffering as a consequence of what happens to them doesn't save them from pain. It may make it worse. Didn't you refrain from telling your parents things that would only make them feel bad? If your parents are deceased and something bad happens to you, don't you think about how they didn't have to suffer the pain of knowing that? So it's a joke-like end to a column that raises a serious question: Why hasn't wartime presidency ravaged GWB the way it ravaged Lincoln, LBJ, and Nixon?
If he suffers, they might tell us; it would make him seem more normal, which is always a heartening thing to see in a president.
But maybe there is no suffering.
Maybe he outsources suffering. Maybe he leaves it to his father.
IN THE COMMENTS: Some excellent answers to that last question. Sean says:
Repeating what others have said, George Bush is a child of privilege. People like that (I am one) never worry, because we are Fortune's children. Roosevelt wasn't ravaged by WWII.
And Ed serves up the red meat for the conspiracy theorists.