TESTY TIMES BACK AT THE RANCH….Even his allies are finally getting tired of President Bush’s “my way or the highway” approach to both the Iraq war and just about everything else as well:
“I don’t think there is any one of us that hasn’t been frustrated,” said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and one of the most powerful members of Congress, who complained that he had been stood up by a senior administration official the day he was to begin writing the final version of the Iraq funding bill.
“They have treated us like a nuisance and appendage,” said Sen. Charles Hagel (R-Neb.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
….Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s brusque manner leaves some lawmakers feeling disrespected. “He is so disdainful of members of Congress for daring to ask a question,” said one Republican senator who asked not to be named. “It is like we are a pesky fly.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday sent angry letters to top officials in the Bush administration, demanding access to records and witnesses as part of the panel’s inquiry into the prewar intelligence on Iraq.
….”By co-signing these letters, [Pat] Roberts has done what he has spent the last two months saying he wouldn’t ? extending this into the White House,” said one congressional source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
This is hardly the first time in history that there’s been tension between Congress and the president, but this kind of stuff is being played out in public more and more these days and there’s a real edge to it. I can’t help but think that even his admirers are starting to see the side of Bush that people like me ? and virtually all non-Americans ? have always seen: a mean-spirited, bullying personality that reacts with defensive fury to the slightest hint of challenge.
(In fact, the Times quote an anonymous White House source as pretty much admitting this: “…the official expressed frustration at Republicans who praise Bush in general for being a blunt and principled leader ? then protest when he is blunt and uncompromising with them.”)
With an election year coming up, I imagine that Republicans will all put their differences aside before long, but even so this has to hurt Bush. You just don’t campaign quite as hard for someone who treats you badly as you do for someone who has inspired a lot of personal loyalty. With any luck, Bush will learn this lesson the hard way next November.