Presidential personality

PRESIDENTIAL PERSONALITY…. The AP’s Ben Feller has a lengthy “analysis” piece this weekend, noting that while George W. Bush will be “judged on what he did” as president, he’ll also be “remembered for what he’s like: a fast-moving, phrase-mangling Texan who stays upbeat even though his country is not.” (thanks to reader J.M. for the tip)

Lacking a record of accomplishment, success, or support, the Bush Legacy Project seems to have settled on presenting the president as a good guy. The failures notwithstanding, he’s the Mensch in Chief. This week, for example, CoS Josh Bolten and NSA Stephen Hadley defended Bush’s legacy by pointing to his personality. Bolten said those who’ve had “actual personal exposure to the president” just love the guy. Hadley also emphasized his “personal qualities,” insisting, “[O]ne thing he is not is arrogant.”

To that end, the AP’s 1,400 paean to Bush’s persona constitutes an odd puff piece, basically taking many of the presidential personality traits that have come to annoy millions, and characterizing them as admirable qualities.

Bush demands punctuality and disdains inefficiency. Every meeting better have a clear purpose. And it better not repeat what he already knows.

He is up early and in the Oval Office by 6:45 a.m. By 9:30 to 10 at night, it’s lights out. He likes to be fresh and won’t get cheated on his sleep.

In sessions with policy experts, Bush tends to ask questions that get right to the nub of a sticky issue. His top aides speak regretfully about how the country never got to see that side of him, even after all this time.

The AP presents this as a good quality. I read this and think Bush gets “right to the nub” of an issue because he doesn’t care much for details, context, nuance, or history.

Bush is insistently — some say unforgivably — optimistic, no matter how low his poll numbers get.

“Every day has been pretty joyous,” he said recently, summing up one of the hardest presidencies ever known.

The AP piece suggests this is evidence of a sunny disposition. I read this and think Bush is vaguely delusional.

Responding to the same article, Digby explained, “Despite the writer’s obvious fondness for the Bushian personality, it actually confirms everything I ever assumed about him. He’s a self-centered, authoritarian jerk who requires everyone to bow and scrape before him, even though he’s an idiot. I’ve known plenty of people like him. He’s America’s mean ex-husband and the country can’t wait to sign the final divorce decree.”

Ultimately, this odd AP article doesn’t do Bush any real favors. It effectively concedes that when looking for something nice to say about this presidency, one should focus on Bush’s punctuality and rigorous exercise routine.

Hardly a legacy to be proud of.