Newsweek: “Bush Might Be The Most Isolated President in Modern History”

December 11th, 2005 11:57 AM

The latest issue of Newsweek featured an almost 4,000 word article – written by Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe, with assistance from Holly Bailey, Daniel Klaidman, Eleanor Clift, Michael Hirsh and John Barry – that painted a pretty bleak picture of President Bush as possibly being “the most isolated president in modern history.” The authors referred to Bush as being in a “bubble” that blocks out thoughts, policy suggestions, and ideas that he is either unwilling or intellectually incapable of absorbing. Some of the lowlights:

  • “Yet his inattention to Murtha, a coal-country Pennsylvanian and rock-solid patriot, suggests a level of indifference, if not denial, that is dangerous for a president who seeks to transform the world.”
  • “What Bush actually hears and takes in, however, is not clear. And whether his advisers are quite as frank as they claim to be with the president is also questionable.”
  • “In subtle ways, Bush does not encourage truth-telling or at least a full exploration of all that could go wrong.”
  • “The official says that the way Bush phrased his questions, as well as his obvious lack of interest in long, detailed discussions, had a chilling effect.”
  • “Bush generally prefers short conversations—long on conclusion, short on reasoning."
  • "He likes popular history and presidential biography (Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington), but by all accounts, he is not intellectually curious."
  • "Occasional outsiders brought into the Bush Bubble have observed that faith, not evidence, is the basis for decision making."
  • "His close friends agree that Bush likes comfort and serenity; he does not like dissonance."
  • "He has long been mothered by strong women, including his mother and wife."
  • "A foreign diplomat who declined to be identified was startled when Secretary of State Rice warned him not to lay bad news on the president. ‘Don't upset him,’ she said."

When mainstream media publications paint the most powerful person in the world in such a fashion, is it any wonder the president’s favorability ratings are so low?

*****As an update, in this article, as has become quite commonplace in the mainstream media lately, virtually none of the sources were named. Instead, they were described thusly:

  • “A White House aide, who like virtually all White House officials (in this story and in general) refused to be identified for fear of antagonizing the president, says that Murtha was a lost cause anyway and dismisses the notion that Bush is isolated or out of touch.”
  • “White House officials, as well as one of his closest friends (also speaking anonymously so as not to complicate relations with the president), say that Bush remains sure that he is on the proper course in Iraq and that ultimately he will be vindicated by history.”
  • “But one former Bush 41 administration figure who knows her well (and declined to be identified for fear of giving offense) says of Rice's apparent evolution, ‘Don't read too much into it. Condi is not a neocon. But she's not Colin Powell, either.’"
  • “According to senior Pentagon officials who did not want to be identified discussing private meetings, in October Bush received an unusually unvarnished briefing on the military situation from the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace.”
  • “One House Republican, who asked not to be identified for fear of offending the White House, recalls a summertime meeting with congressmen in the Roosevelt Room at which Bush enthusiastically talked up his Social Security reform plan.”
  • “‘The president would ask the generals, 'Do you have what you need to complete the mission?' as opposed to saying, 'Tell me, General, what do you need to win?' which would have opened up a whole new set of conversations,’ says this official, who did not want to be identified discussing high-level meetings.”