The Toddler-In-Chief

January 4th, 2009at 03:21pm Posted by Eli

Frank Rich has a nice column in today’s NYT about how sick America is of Dubya, in which he also attempts to figure out how such a small, mediocre man could have caused such epic destruction here and overseas:

Even the banality of evil is too grandiose a concept for 43. He is not a memorable villain so much as a sometimes affable second banana whom Josh Brolin and Will Ferrell can nail without breaking a sweat…. He is smaller than life.

The last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Bush’s presidency found that 79 percent of Americans will not miss him after he leaves the White House. He is being forgotten already, even if he’s not yet gone. You start to pity him until you remember how vast the wreckage is. It stretches from the Middle East to Wall Street to Main Street and even into the heavens, which have been a safe haven for toxins under his passive stewardship. The discrepancy between the grandeur of the failure and the stature of the man is a puzzlement. We are still trying to compute it.


Americans essentially stopped listening to him after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, but he still doesn’t grasp the finality of their defection. Lately he’s promised not to steal the spotlight from Barack Obama once he’s in retirement — as if he could do so by any act short of running naked through downtown Dallas. The latest CNN poll finds that only one-third of his fellow citizens want him to play a post-presidency role in public life.


But the brazenness of Bush’s alternative-reality history is itself revelatory. The audacity of its hype helps clear up the mystery of how someone so slight could inflict so much damage. So do his many print and television exit interviews.

The man who emerges is a narcissist with no self-awareness whatsoever. It’s that arrogance that allowed him to tune out even the most calamitous of realities, freeing him to compound them without missing a step. The president who famously couldn’t name a single mistake of his presidency at a press conference in 2004 still can’t.

I think Rich is close, but doesn’t go quite far enough.  The reason that Bush was able to “accomplish” so much, and the reason it’s all been disastrous, is that he has the mentality of a toddler.  Everything is “Me!  Mine!  Gimme!  Gimme!  I want!  I want!”, with that terrible two-year-old’s single-minded focus on screaming and stamping without pause until he gets everything he wants.  Consequences are irrelevant.  Everything outside his narrow scope of “I want!” is uninteresting.

But in Bush’s case, he’s a toddler surrounded by the world’s most high-powered and unethical lawyers and PR spinners, to give his unreasonable and self-centered demands a veneer of plausibility and legality.  “When my client says, ‘I wanna ice cream, gimme gimme now!’, what he means is that pursuant to Article II of the Constitution, the President’s powers during wartime clearly include unlimited ice cream at any time of his choosing.”

And the Democratic opposition, like weary, harried parents who live in fear of their little darling’s tantrums, eagerly give in to his every whim, just to make him stop shrieking and throwing things.  Of course, it never works and he always wants more, but they’re so cowed and shell-shocked that they don’t even care any more, they’ll do anything just to make it stop – and God forbid they should ever try to discipline him when he sets the dog on fire.

Or, alternatively, maybe we just got the government we deserve…

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Media,Politics

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