“HE TRULY ENJOYS GETTING PEOPLE TO KNUCKLE UNDER”….I’m reading Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine right now, and it’s been an odd experience. Yes, it has quite a few anecdotes that make George Bush and Dick Cheney look bad, but at the same time it frequently paints a fairly sympathetic portrait of them as men who are reacting as well as anyone could to the furious real-time cascade of genuinely frightening and confusing events in the early days after 9/11.

More on that later, though. For now, here’s one of those anecdotes instead. It’s set at Harvard Business School in 1975, where Bush was captain of his class’s basketball team. His team is playing the Class of ’76 team:

The game was tight. The other team’s captain, Gary Engle…went up for a shot. Bush slugged him ? an elbow to the mouth, knocking him to the parquet. “What the hell are you doing?” Engle remembers saying. “What, you want to get into a fistfight and both of us end up in the fucking emergency room?” Bush just smiled.

Moments later, at the other end of the court, Engle went up high for a rebound and felt someone chop his legs out from under him. Bush again. Engle jumped up and threw the ball in Bush’s face. The two went at it until two teams of future business leaders leapt on their captains, pulling them apart. Engle, angry and vexed by what had happened, began wondering why the hell Bush would have done what he did. He lost his composure, and his team lost its leader.

A few years later, Engle…bumped into Jeb Bush….Engle, a Republican contributor, had thought from time to time about his game against George. Nothing like that had happened to him before or since. This was his chance to get a little insight about it. He told the story. Jeb kind of laughed, Engle recalled. “In Texas, they call guys like George ‘a hard case.’ It wasn’t easy being his brother, either. He truly enjoys getting people to knuckle under.”

This, apparently, is the real Bush Doctrine: America’s goal is to get the rest of the world to knuckle under to us, one dimwitted action at a time. Suskind calls it Bush’s “global experiment in behaviorism.” Doesn’t seem to be working too well so far, though, does it?

UPDATE: Added a couple of sentences that I left out of the original excerpt.

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