Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Falling flat

One benefit of not having a television is listening to, rather than watching, speeches. I've heard Bush's last two speeches, the hastily-called address about two weeks ago when he assured us all was well in Iraq, and all he needed to rebuild it and Afghanistan was $87 billion; and today's address to the General Assembly of UN, where he said all was still going swimmingly in Iraq, and BTW, "buddies, can you lend a hand?"
The Guardian's headline for its story about the latter is "Bush Isolated as Speech to UN Falls Flat." Well, having heard his speech--as well as Kofi Annan's and Jacques Chirac's--I couldn't agree more. It was an uninspired, rambling mumble about nonproliferation of weapons, trafficking in sex-slaves, a few other things, all mixed in with a grumble or two about the needs of the Iraqis for help in becoming a free nation.
Really a boring presentation, as was Bush's truculent demand for the $87 billion two weeks ago.
Here's my observation: We know nothing about Bush's character. After all, he's never been tested, never faced adversity. He's been bailed out of every tight spot he's ever been in, and here he is again. How does he perform when there's no daddy or fellow-traveling businessmen to come to his aid?
Here's my question: Could it be Bush has lost his taste for this job? I'm not suggesting he'll decide not to run in 2004, but it's possible we could see a different, much less convincing and--frankly--attractive Bush in this campaign than when it was all new to him. Certainly when he faces the personalities of Dean or Clark, as opposed to Gore, we'll see what he's up to. I have my doubts he'll do well in such a setting. It may be too difficult for him. He may, as they say in sports, "just mail it in."

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