Monday, April 30, 2007

Bush's New Way Forward -- Again and Again

Huffington Post
Bill Katovsky
Bush's New Way Forward -- Again and Again

When it comes to meeting, if not surpassing lowered expectations, George W. Bush embodies the traits of a true champion. Miraculously, he remains an island of serene, optimistic calm amid administration scandals and incompetence. Yet he refuses to let down the American people by going negative on himself. His philosophy of "what me worry?" has served him well for over six years in the Oval Office.

Why alter a good thing?

He's a half-glass filled kind of guy, except that his tumbler is bone dry. If he too is suffering from Bush fatigue, he's showing few visible signs.

Still, it's been a rocky patch the past few weeks for the president. That spectacle of grief as exhibitionism with Laura at Virginia Tech only highlighted his own duck-and-cover approach towards publicly acknowledging the lives of American soldiers who've been needlessly sacrificed in Iraq.

Nor is it a slam dunk that Bush, who boasts about his passion for books on history, will want to read former CIA Director Tenet's memoir which rips to shreds his Iraq war team.

His top lawman, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, discovered that testifying on Capitol Hill is about as pleasurable as being detained at Gitmo. After Gonzo's thirtieth or fortieth "I don't recall," senators should have threatend him with water-boading to pry meaningful answers from him. Yet only Dubya stands 100 percent behind the man whom The New York Times labeled a "dull-witted apparatchik."

To his credit, loyalty is Bush's strongest asset. So is unbridled stubbornness, granite-headed obstinacy, inflexibility, uncompromisiong, and a win-at-all-costs mentality that demonizes his foes and shamelessly plays with facts for partisan advantage.

He likes going tete a tete with his adversaries: Osama, Saddam, Kerry, Pelosi, Reid, etc. It fuels his testosterone. It brings out his nasty, competitive side. Because he avoids nuance and complexity -- in speech or thought -- he reduces everything to "you are either with me or against me" which is his common fallback position on just about everything, ranging from stem cells and abortion to Iraq and global warming. This is a character defect found in schoolyard bullies.

Bush exasperates us because he wields tremendous executive power and yet professes so little recognition of anything that might challenge his calcified convictions. It's tempting to want to knock some sense into his thick skull, like one of those West African drums he was flailing upon.

Lately, he's been pounding away at his pledge to veto the $124 billion war spending bill passed by Congress because it includes a timeline for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. His coy acnowledgment that he might be willing to effect a compromise with Democratic leaders is a ruse.

Back in November, December and January, he made a similar hollow promise when he offered to seriously consider other viewpoints before committing to a troop surge. He was only buying time and playing politics.

On Friday, Bush said, "I invite the leaders of the House and Senate, both parties, to come down, you know, soon after my veto, so we can discuss a way forward."

But the "way forward" has always been his way forward. Bush's way forward is nothing less than being stuck on an elliptical trainer that he religiously uses every day. He might be burning calories, but he's not going anywhere.

Bill Katovsky is also the editor of which debuted in March.