Friday, April 21, 2006

John Dean on President 'I'm the Decider' Bush

John Dean of Watergate fame has written a long series of articles on the possible legal problems of President Bush. He was one of the earliest conservatives to suggest that Bush is impeachable on the grounds that it is illegal to use federal agencies to lie to Congress and the American people as was the case when Bush made his alarming and misleading plea for war in Iraq.

Here are excerpts from Dean's article in Findlaw:
Recent events provide an especially good illustration of Bush's fateful - perhaps fatal - approach. Six generals who have served under Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld have called for his resignation - making a strong substantive case as to why he should resign. And they are not alone: Editorialists have also persuasively attacked Rumsfeld on the merits.

Yet Bush's defense of Rumsfeld was entirely substance-free. Bush simply told reporters in the Rose Garden that Rumsfeld would stay because "I'm the decider and I decide what's best." He sounded much like a parent telling children how things would be: "I'm the Daddy, that's why."

This, indeed, is how Bush sees the presidency, and it is a point of view that will cause him trouble.

Bush has never understood what presidential scholar Richard Neustadt discovered many years ago: In a democracy, the only real power the presidency commands is the power to persuade. Presidents have their bully pulpit, and the full attention of the news media, 24/7. In addition, they are given the benefit of the doubt when they go to the American people to ask for their support. But as effective as this power can be, it can be equally devastating when it languishes unused - or when a president pretends not to need to use it, as Bush has done.

Apparently, Bush does not realize that to lead he must continually renew his approval with the public. He is not, as he thinks, the decider. The public is the decider.


...Bush may mount a unilateral attack on Iran's nuclear facilities - hoping to rev up his popularity. (It's a risky strategy: A unilateral hit on Iran may both trigger devastating Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks in Iraq, with high death tolls, and increase international dislike of Bush for his bypass of the U.N. But as an active/negative President, Bush hardly shies away from risk.)....

Dean, as well as others, point out that while Bush is an effective campaigner, he has lost most of his policy gambles when it comes to business or being a president. But some types of gamblers always believe the next roll of the dice will bring the big payoff. Bush may have other ideas in mind other than an attack on Iran but it is important for the American people to watch this president closely. He is, after all, supported by two men who have felt all along that they are the kind of men who can out-Nixon Nixon: Cheney and Rumsfeld. Fortunately, in all three branches of government, there are still people who take seriously their oath to uphold the law and to uphold the US Constitution. And finally, there is, after all, the marketplace. Campaign contributors better start thinking long and hard about the economic consequences of funding an incompetent president.


Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

"Bush simply told reporters in the Rose Garden that Rumsfeld would stay because 'I'm the decider and I decide what's best.' He sounded much like a parent telling children how things would be: 'I'm the Daddy, that's why.'


I remember so well, in 2002 when Bush was out day after day hard-selling his plan to invade Iraq. During press conferences, a reporter would ask for specifics, for some more evidence of WMDs, specifics about how and why the alleged threat was not only real but imminent.

In response, Bush would repeat what he'd already said, only louder, a little slower and more emphatically, as though repeating it to a child who he knew had heard him the first time but was trying to be difficult.

Often, Bush's voice would rise in indication of a certain frustration. The implication was:

I'm telling you how it is. I'm the president, so when I say that's how it is, that's how it is and that's all you need to know.

Now, why are you determined to be difficult about something that's so simple?

The truth, confirmed in the time since, is that Bush couldn't bolster his statements with more and better facts because those facts didn't exist.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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12:02 AM  

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