January 13, 2004

President Empty Suit

President Empty Suit:

*p. 153: [on Social Security]: Bush showed no response. He had checked out, and time was up. "I just thought we needed to have a real discussion," [Paul] O'Neill recalled. "We needed to do some actual questioning and thinking. I'm the Treasury Secretary and I happen to have spent forty years studying Social Security. The Fed chairman and I are in agreement. I've even had real discussions with other presidents about the choices and consequences on this issue.... But he just sat back in his chair. His attitude was, 'I said this during the campaign, and whatever I said in the campaign must be right'." O'Neill, who had come to Washington dreaming of reforming Social Security, left feeling confused and deflated.


*Ron Suskind (2003), The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill (New York: Simon and Schuster: 0743255453).

Posted by DeLong at January 13, 2004 02:37 PM | TrackBack

Comments

'I said this during the campaign, and whatever I said in the campaign must be right'.

Except when Karl Rove, his campaign contributors, or both didn't want him to follow through -- as on global warming -- in which case the campaign statements became (in the immortal Nixonian formulation) inoperative.

Posted by: Philip M. on January 13, 2004 03:11 PM

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What, he actually cared about keeping a campaign promise? Does he know he broke a whole bunch of other ones?

Could it be he is even more disconnected and stupider than Reagan?

Posted by: Ca on January 13, 2004 04:29 PM

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Perhaps that explains why Bush's social security reform commission could reach no consensus, and had to coherent recommendations. If they all had to assume that what Bush promised during the campaign, they were all asked to figure out how to do the impossible.

Posted by: jml on January 13, 2004 06:37 PM

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Perhaps that explains why Bush's social security reform commission could reach no consensus, and had to coherent recommendations. If they all had to assume that what Bush promised during the campaign **was right**, they were all asked to figure out how to do the impossible.

(I guess my ability to type correct blog copy quickly has not improved with the new year.)

Posted by: jml on January 13, 2004 06:39 PM

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So given the suit of clothes that Dubya does wear, how do the other players in the room see him? If you were playing chess for instance and your opponent was not competent, would you switch to checkers? And then to tiddly-winks?
And now that this spectacle is public, does the loyal group quintuple their efforts to be loyal and look loyal and sound loyal. It amazes me how they can even face the mirror in the morning.
How does (any) policy originate, given the office is essentially empty? Lindsay's loyalty to Dubya is like having a great engine, but no transmission. Somehow policy gets developed and articulated.
Dubya used to be described as a bit 'wooden', which I understood to be a reference to his speaking abilities. Now they say he has improved.
Not to my ear and O'Neill's remarks make it abundantly clear that 'wooden' refers to more than his oratory skills.

Posted by: calmo on January 13, 2004 08:41 PM

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Yes, calmo, it appears that Bush subscribes to the same approach as Justice Thomas regarding the latter's failure to participate in almost any oral arguments, and for much the same reasons:

Better to keep silent and allow others to believe that you may be a fool, than to open your mouth and confirm their opinion.

Posted by: Philip M. on January 14, 2004 08:07 AM

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What I am wondering is with the others in the Administration-- it seems apparent even from these limited selections that Bush is ill-informed, lazy, intellectually shallow, etc. (All of which became evident during the campaign and also if you have read the full text of his public remarks over the past few years....he is abysmally ignorant for a President).

Anyway-- I heard Lindsey (and have heard others) saying that the Bush they see is nothing like this...he supposedly drives these meeting, asks tough, probing questions, etc. Are they completely lying? Or, just being loyal? How can you sit in meeting after meeting when it is apparent the guy in charge is clueless? Do Cheney and Rove really run the show?

I think that passages like this that pull the curtain back and reveal Bush's true incompetence will have more effect than Repubs dare admit....they are frigthening. And he's supposed to be a "bold and decisive leader"?

Posted by: marty on January 14, 2004 04:27 PM

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