By Michael Hart
With Robert Draper's new book on the Bush presidency, "Dead Certain," now out and with Mr. Draper making the rounds on the talk shows (with Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night and Charlie Rose Thursday) I have been pondering the question about Dubya that has been asked continually since he became President: is he a dense clod or is he the canny politician with touches of Cheney/Rove evil in him?
I bring this up because although I agree that Dubya is definitely intellectually lazy, I may now have to side with the canny argument. Why? Because the more these writers like Mr. Draper and Bob Woodward come out with books on his administration, the more I think that Dubya has cleverly fooled them and a sizable segment of the population.
The authors leave the impression that Dubya is a contemplative, compassionate person -- but what is that based on? In both Mr. Woodward and Mr. Draper's cases, it is based on relatively short (Draper had six hour-long interviews with Bush I believe and Woodward was also on a similar schedule) interview sessions controlled by Bush. The authors talk for him a little while on tough subjects like war, and because he shows or feigns emotion to them (did they ever hear of acting?) they are quick to write that he has a lot of empathy about people's plights.
No, Dubya is not stupid in that he apparently knows how to manipulate writers to present him in a good light -- even his stubbornness and refusals to change his original positions based on developments are often portrayed as strengths, not liabilities.