July 12, 2007

System Quarterback

I think people used to give Bush too much credit as a good politician. Some seemed to see him as some kind of political genius--able to speak to the masses in ways that the punditry didn't understand. It seems clear to me that the opposite is true.

In fact, if you pardon a sports metaphor, he is what some would call a "system quarterback." When managed by the people around him, he can deliver adequate results, but when the system breaks down, you see that he has no real skills of his own. Some have enjoyed decent careers and one (at least) won a Super Bowl, but none that I know of are truly great quarterbacks.

With Bush, we should have seen that coming. He was unable to muster anything beyond family contacts as businessman, or governor, or running for President. What he had in 2000 and 2004, however, was a packaged system where his weaknesses became his strengths. His inabiliy to speak; unwillingness to discuss details; and no real experience--became his advantage in 2000. That same system manipulated the fears of a nation in 2004 and used his same weaknesses to their advantage.

But the system has failed. No offensive line and what scorers he once enjoyed are now injured or gone. Now the weaknesses are apparent and the supposed strengths are gone. We now see his true political instinct and absent the machine, he looks like a bumbling, self-deluded man.

Witness today's presser where the President defended his war policies. There were many problems, but this exchange stuck out in my mind. When asked about his decision making, Bush responded:
And so, when it's all said and done, if you ever come down and visit the old, tired me down there in Crawford, I will be able to say, I looked in the mirror and made decisions based upon principle, not based upon politics.

And that's important to me.
Clearly not true. Not Bush-bashing to say that he has clearly made decisions that were politically motivated. He clearly lies when he says that he listens to the generals on the field when he has clearly fired those who don't agree with him. But he clearly believes what he has told himself.

He has no clear sense that he is a weak-armed quarterback with no mobility who should have never been made starter in the first place. If only we could bench Bush as easily as a real "system quarterback."

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