"Apparently, Bush does not realize that to lead he must continually renew his approval with the public. He is not, as he thinks, the decider. The public is the decider." [→ READ ]
John Dean expands on how George Bush fits in political scientist James Dave Barber’s schema of presidential character and personality type, assessing that Bush is an active/negative president (like Nixon). Observing that “active/negative presidencies do not end well,” Dean writes “to look at where Bush’s may be heading.”
A funny line, of course:
This Administration goes through scandals like a compulsive eater does candy bars; the wrapper is barely off one before we’ve moved on to another.
And not so funny:
Bush’s defense of Rumsfeld was entirely substance-free. Bush simply told reporters in the Rose Garden that Rumsfeld would stay because “I’m the decider and I decide what’s best.” He sounded much like a parent telling children how things would be: “I’m the Daddy, that’s why.”
This, indeed, is how Bush sees the presidency, and it is a point of view that will cause him trouble.
A key observation:
Bush is following the classic mistaken pattern of active/negative presidents: As Barber explained, they issue order after order, without public support, until they eventually dissipate the real powers they have — until “nothing [is] left but the shell of the office.” Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all followed this pattern.
My friend L writes me in response to Dean’s column, warning that Dean does not go far enough. I’m posting here (with L’s permission) as an articulate data point that illustrates the enmity BushCo has created. L’s executive summary:
Basically everyone believes the Bushies are just more of the same inept leadership we get from time to time [that] needs to be outlived and they’ll go away and things will go back to being what they were. But I am saying no they won’t.
The American tiger is sleeping. We need to wake it up.
L in full:
I would like to point out that John Dean, like what’s left of the free press and media, and the “loyal opposition,” does not understand and fails to admit the possibility that the Bush Administration is totally changing this paradigm. This faction controlling the White House does not see themselves as only having power to persuade the people, as indicated [by Dean in his column]:
“Bush has never understood what presidential scholar Richard Neustadt discovered many years ago: In a democracy, the only real power the presidency commands is the power to persuade.”
Au contraire! They are taking the executive branch of the government from that formerly assumed position — namely, to administer the affairs of state by the people’s leave and with their permission, to act in their best interests and in support of the general public welfare — to an authoritarian state of ruling by the whim of their own power, will, and intent, regardless of what limits the Constitution puts on that power and with total disregard of the American people and what they think about it.
The Bush Administration is following the exact course prescribed by the first Caesars of Rome and Hitler in his takeover of the German government. No one wants to believe this. This is why Hitler was so successful in his day, as the German people did not want to believe this was going on until it was too late.
This is why the Bush Administration is successfully dismantling the historic function of the government agencies and replacing professional departmental leadership with unqualified, loyal party hacks and are rolling back all the gains made by society since 1929. This is why they ignore science, history, education, the Constitution, the normal rule of law, the opinions of humanity and leaders of other nations and follow actions that leave Americans shaking their heads in wonder.
They are treading our normal system of government beneath their own corinthian leather wingtip dress shoes and replacing it with one that is hand in glove with the CEO corporate interests while they remove every safeguard put in place for the average American. (By the way, that is Benito Mussolini’s definition of fascism.) [Mike insert: According to the Wikipedia article on corporatism, this origin is disputed. The corporatist point remains applicable, however, as seen in the undisputed dictionary definition of fascism (“stringent socioeconomic controls”).] And they are knowingly doing this by creating economic recession, bankrupting debt, and war.
They are doing this by plan and with full intent, and most Americans sit and shake their heads in wonder like a dog at an unknown master’s commands, still expecting a treat.
Just go read the PNAC proposal by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.