As George Bush's time in office winds down, he's found time to sit down and reflect on his tenure with author Robert Draper. The resulting book is called Dead Certain, the title an apparent reference to Bush's defiance and stubbornness in the face of harsh reality.
This attitude is reflected in his answer to a key question from the author, who asked the president what his main goal would be in his remaining time in office. If you were expecting him to say something reassuring, something like "I'm going to focus on finding a sensible way to wrap things up in Iraq so that our soldiers can come home to their families," you'll be disappointed. He declares that his main goal is “To get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence," and (he later added) "stay longer."
So apparently Bush will be spending his days figuring out ways to continue his disastrous war ad infinitum, even after he's safely (for the world) out of Washington, because he's "dead certain" that he's right about Iraq, and nobody is going to get him to change his mind. Furthermore, he assures us that he really believes it when he says that things are going to turn around in Iraq. "You can't fake it," he told the author.
But you needn't worry that the war and all those dead Americans are putting too much stress on the commander-in-chief. When the author noted that he had nobody's "shoulder to cry on," Bush told him, “Of course I do, I’ve got God’s shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot," and added, "I’ll bet I’ve shed more tears than you can count as president.”
For a president who likes to pride himself on being a strong leader, it seems a bit odd to me that he would admit to being a big crybaby. Somehow, I have a hard time picturing Bush laying in bed at night sobbing into his pillow so he won't wake Laura. It's much easier for me, however, to imagine the mothers and fathers, wives, husbands, and children of all those soldiers who came home in flag-draped coffins crying for the loved ones they'll never see again, and I'm willing to bet that God is a lot more willing to lend his shoulder to them than to Bush.
Bush has always made a point of saying that he doesn't make decisions according to the polls, and of course on one level, he's right. A president can't base his decisions on whatever the latest polls say. But you'd think that when the American people express such strong disapproval of their leader and his policies, he'd at least want to take a moment to ponder the reasons for their anger and search for ways to factor public opinion into his frame of reference.
In a classic case of wishful thinking, Bush has been reduced to claiming that although everybody thinks he's a screw-up now, history will vindicate him and record that he was a clear-eyed leader who did what he thought was right and as a result saved the earth from extinction. To me, he's like the father whose kids hate him, but it doesn't really bother him because he's "dead certain" that his strict authoritarian parenting style is what's best for them, and dammit, they'll thank him for it when they get older.
Bush posits the simplistic notion that he's unpopular because "I made a decision to lead." He says, "One, it makes you unpopular…and two, it makes people accuse you of unilateral arrogance, and that may be true. But the fundamental question is, is the world better off as a result of your leadership?”
Well, at least he admits that he's arrogant. I guess that's something. And the question he poses is exactly the right one. Is the world better off as a result of George Bush's leadership? The American people (and the world) have rendered their verdict on that score with a resounding no, and they're "dead certain" of their answer.