Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Bushian Insularity

A Will Hinton post at RedBlueChristian entitled "Regretting Bush" makes a number of points, one of which I want to discuss.

Even more disturbing that any actual policies have been Bush’s decision-making process and the insular nature of his administration. It is one thing to have confidence and belief in one’s own values. It is quite another thing to be unable to take a critical view of one’s positions and be willing to understand one’s opponents. Bush has shown neither the ability nor the inclination. Combine this with the blind loyalty that Bush shows to those around him (and yes I do mean blind) and you have the recipe for P.R. blunders like Harriet [Miers] and the recent U.S. Attorneys scandal.

As I noted, this was not the Bush that was advertised in 2000.

Bush, a Republican who had unseated popular Democratic Gov. Ann Richards, was told that in the Texas capitol, "relationships are everything." He was coached to build strong and warm relationships with the leaders of the Texas House and Senate, Speaker Pete Laney and Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, their top aides, and also legislators.
A few weeks before the 1994 election, amid signs he was going to win, Bush asked to meet with Bullock, and went to Bullock's house.

After Bush left, Bullock, a control freak whose relationship with Richards had badly deteriorated in the previous four years, told his chief of staff, "I believe we can work with that boy."

And he did, and so did Laney. Bush was smart enough to know that if he hoped to get passed even the modest proposals that he had made, his success was at the mercy of the Democrat-dominated Legislature. The Democratic leaders, whose bodies were growing more Republican, also had a vested interest in a friendly relationship with the top Republican.

And warm friendships grew. Bush fed Bullock's craving for information and detail control, to the point that Bullock endorsed Bush for re-election in 1998 over Bullock's own political protégée, Land Commissioner Garry Mauro. And he also endorsed Bush for president.

Bullock died in June of 1999, before Bush won his party's nomination or the White House. But Bush honored Bullock's request and delivered the late lieutenant governor's eulogy. After Bush claimed the GOP nomination in 2000, he called on Bullock's widow Jan to introduce him at the Republican National Convention.

When the United States Supreme Court finally declared Bush the winner of the 2000 presidential race weeks after the election, Bush was introduced to the nation as the next president from the floor of the Texas House of Representatives – by Speaker Laney.

And now, seven years later, Bush isn't working with Democrats, and isn't working with Republicans. After 2009, will Bush emerge as his party's version of Jimmy Carter, a perpetual nit who will make trouble for everyone?


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