Friday, January 21, 2005

The man in the arena

Without doubt one of the greatest presidents of the United States was Theodore Roosevelt. He stood as a Colossus over his age leaving his imprints for generations to come. No stranger to energetic action he wrote the oft quoted passage that rebuts the ease with which onlookers criticize and gives credit to "the man who is actually in the arena" - even if in his effort he fails.

By some accounts George W. Bush is now the man in the arena, and by Roosevelt's dictum we should not criticize him. Tcha!

Half of America roundly rebuts him; the educated press finds his record tarred with inadequacies of varying colors, most of the rest of the world is highly critical of him.

Until the current President it is doubtful is any of them were the creation of a committee. They were men of education and reading, men of stong opinions - well able to handle themselves under pressure. I doubt Teddy Roosevelt ever imagined a President who would not read the newpapers but leave it to his staff to filter the news and tell him what they thought he should know.

Bush's book reading habits are poor to the point of utter embarrasment. Read this CNN article, or this Slate commentary.

President George Bush is the product of Carl Rove's amazing determination to make him President. He is still nursed along by his neo-con nannies - Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Co., and carefully kept from facing the press most of the time because they know their 'boss' cannot be trusted not to put his foot in his mouth. He deliberately surrounds himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear. With Powell gone, George Bush is now in soft cocoon with little sense of the real weight of debate and opinion in the outside world. That is very scary, and very dangerous.

To change the metaphor from the second term lame duck presidency; Bush may be "the man in the arena" but it's increasingly apparent he's been thrown from his horse and is limping for the rails.