U.S. News & World Report is traditionally known as the staid sister of Time and Newsweek, so it’s a little shocking to see these harsh words on the cover this week: "Bush’s Last Stand: He’s plagued by a hostile CONGRESS, sinking POLLS, and an unending WAR. IS HE RESOLUTE OR DELUSIONAL?" (Capitals theirs.) The cover story by Kenneth T. Walsh is loaded with Bush-bashing quotes from named and anonymous sources. Walsh began by noting Bush has compared his trials to those of Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman, and the diagnosis that Bush is mentally ill emerges from DNC chairman Dr. Howard Dean: "This is delusional – comparing yourself to two of our greatest presidents!" Liberal historian Robert Dallek added, "a great majority see him as stubborn and unyielding...And everything he touches turns to dust."
In his article, titled "A Sinking Presidency," Walsh quotes a "Bush adviser" and "another confidant" to explain the White House view, and near the end, he included White House spokesman Dan Bartlett on the record suggesting the president receives a diversity of opinion and "I don’t believe there any blind spots in the White House." But most of the people Walsh found to comment had negative things to say:
– Columnist William F. Buckley Jr wrote a column predicting the waning of the GOP: "The political problem of the Bush administration is grave, possibly beyond the point of rescue."
– Howard Dean a second time: "Some critics say Bush has lost his image of competence because of Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. ‘It ended the day after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans,’ exposing vast faults in the government’s disaster response system, says the DNC’s Dean."
– Former strategist Matthew Dowd declared Bush is "secluded and bubbled in."
– An unnamed "former adviser" piled on with a "boy king" insult: "Because of the war, he’s gone from incredible strength to incredible weakness. Shakespeare couldn’t have written it any better – the boy king."
Walsh concluded that while "legislators, journalists, and friends" are dazzled by the president's "command of the issues dear to him," the public at large is not: "The problem may be that many other Americans are tuning him out." If that's true, it might happen in part because "news" magazines are suggesting it's quite possible that he's nearing insanity.