BUSH AT WAR….Mark Kleiman had exactly the same reaction that I did to part of Bush’s Meet the Press interview:

My dislike of the current resident at 1600 Penn. is so intense that I can’t use my reactions to things he says and does as any sort of gauge of the likely reactions of normal people.

Take, for example, his reference to himself in the Russert interview as a “war President.” I was disgusted by it, but figured that Mr. Bush’s supporters wouldn’t mind it. So I’ve been pleasantly surprised, in talking to three pro-Bush friends, to find that they all regarded the comment as reflecting something between creepily bad taste and a humorously inaccurate self-concept. “Would that be anything like a wartime consigliere?” said one.

That remark struck me exactly the same way, but like Mark I brushed it aside since I figured it was just because I don’t like Bush. But now that he’s mentioned it, I think I’d like to fan the flames a bit.

Who the hell does George Bush think he is, anyway? We haven’t had a “wartime president” since FDR, and there’s a good reason for that: you’re only a wartime president if you act like you’re at war. That means placing the country on a wartime footing, putting aside petty politics to forge a bipartisan wartime consensus, and telling the nation in no uncertain terms that sacrifices need to be made. George Bush has done none of those things. In fact, he’s done exactly the opposite, sending the message loud and clear that this war is as trivial and inconsequential as it’s possible to be, all the time treating it as little more than a partisan club with which to beat his enemies.

George Bush has made it crystal clear that he doesn’t truly care about terrorism in any meaningful way. He’s playing games with the people who supported him and has betrayed everything they think they see in him. When will they figure it out?

UPDATE: Well, David Brooks seems to have liked the “war president” line. Or, more accurately, he would have liked it if George Bush had said what David Brooks wishes he said. But he didn’t, did he?

And yet Brooks apparently still thinks that this is what George Bush really believes. But why? After all this time why are so many conservatives convinced that Bush believes the same things they do despite mountains of evidence to the contrary? There is a willful naivt? at work here that’s genuinely inexplicable.