21 August 2007

Why Bush isn't really President

This article shows why George W. Bush is not really President of the United States.

Every decision that Cheney wanted - the war on Iraq, the tax cuts - have all come through, with funding and resources in spades. The whole abstract democracy thing, the nearest thing Bush has to an idea of his own, hasn't come through and has not been resourced.
"Policy is not what the president says in speeches," the bureaucrat replied. "Policy is what emerges from interagency meetings."

In that statement is the truth that what is done is more important than what is said. Those who claim that Bush is not just de jure but de facto head of the American government, that he's a clever man in his own right and can survive the departure of Karl Rove, is just PR puffery and wishful thinking. Compounding this is an inept foreign policy chief, whose qualifications in Soviet policy ill equip her to deal with Putin, let alone other international leaders and predicaments.

The American media has played little role in explaining to the people of that country why Bush is such a poor leader (rather than the weak construction that he is poorly perceived), and why the gap between what he says and what he does creates opportunities for enemies and competitors. The meek acceptance and presentation of Bush's framing as a strong leader has got to stop, it's not helping anyone - not even Bush. The media place a high premium on interviews and direct quotes, but Bush's all-talk performance shows that a weak leader can be a distraction, and ultimately more trouble than he's worth.

In a parliamentary democracy, Bush would have been rolled by now. Australians who favour a republic should help us avoid this eighteenth-century despot model, as I've said before.

All his life, Bush has had people clean up after him and the next President will be no different. If they use the same decision-making processes to choose their next President as they did with this one, they'll end up with another dud and will only seal American decline.


  1. You're on a logical conundrum there Andrew . If failures of the American presidency explain its decline how does it explain America's ascendancy. You have to have an explanation along the lines of the decline and fall of the Roman (American) empire.

  2. No Bill, I'm not and I don't.

    It's too early to tell whether America will go the way of Rome, Tyre and Nineveh and I certainly haven't written anything like that. If you want a narrative about broader American decline, write it yourself.

    The American Presidency is an elastic institution. The current occupant is not the clever man that his constituency regard him as. If Cheney wants something to happen, it happens; and if doesn't want something to happen it doesn't. Thus, he and not Bush is effectively President. My criticism is the focus on Bush and the analysis of what he says rather than does; the focus should instead be on what is done in his name. It is time to ignore anything he says that is inconsistent with what he does, and to focus more on those within his administration who make things (not) happen.