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September 11, 2005

Sideshow George

Shakes here...

In The Calmer in Chief, Ezra pulls a quote from this article that illustrates how truly feckless Bush’s leadership was specifically during the Katrina crisis. As I read the article, I was struck by the repetition of a particular idea—that of Bush as showman, and seemingly little more. (Emphasis mine.)

Longtime Bush watchers say they are not shocked that he missed his moment—one of his most trusted confidants calls him "a better third- and fourth-quarter player," who focuses and delivers when he sees the stakes. What surprised them was that he still appeared to be stutter-stepping in the second week of the crisis, struggling to make up for past lapses instead of taking control with a grand gesture

Bush has always said the presidency is about doing big things, and a friend who chatted with him one evening in July said he seemed to be craving a fresh mission…"He was looking for the next really important thing to do," the friend said…

"Where's the Cathedral speech?" a friend asked in frustration a dozen days after Katrina hit, referring to Bush's address at the Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 14, 2001, when he asked "almighty God to watch over our nation and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come." It's coming, Bush's aides promise. And so are other big gestures.

Grand gesture…really important thing to do…big gestures… Always as a way of deflecting attention away from his administration’s failures. While the clown is getting trampled by the rogue elephant, the spotlights are redirected and the barker tells the crowd it’s no time to ask questions about what went wrong, then directs their attention to Sideshow George, who pulls an American flag out of his hat.

It’s not even a grand gesture, though, is it? Just a flourish, at best.

A grand gesture would be rescuing the clown. A grand gesture would have been, long before things went pear-shaped, making sure the clown—all the clowns, and the audience, too–had health insurance. Grand gestures are selfless and brave, or come unbidden, not as a response to a disaster. But Sideshow George is just a two-bit illusionist who doesn’t have much to do unless the elephant goes haywire.

September 11, 2005 | Permalink

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Tracked on Sep 12, 2005 10:42:07 AM

Comments

Since Bush has no interest in facts, differing opinions and planning ahead, and even less interest in 'taking care that the laws are faithfully administered', Bush is the LAST person that you'd want to call when the elephant goes haywire.

A flyover 4 days after the clown was smashed to see if the circus tent still is standing is not exactly what characterizes an executive in charge of anything.

The only question that remains is who is the least prepared by background and inclination to be in charge of anything related to a disaster: Bush, Chertoff, or Brown. Brown and Chertoff don't win this award, because with a real President they might even be able to do something worthwhile. Bush wins the Disastrous Leadership award, handsdown!

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Sep 11, 2005 11:27:31 PM

The whole "grand gesture" play-acting thing always reminds me of Black Adder III with Hugh Laurie playing the dimwitted Prince Regent (George IV, as opposed to our actual dimwitted prince regent George II).

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