Let’s face it, President Bush just isn’t exactly overflowing with common sense. He may be a leader but a leader doesn’t have to be the brightest guy in the room. He usually has to have some common sense however.
It seems that at just about every turn Bush gives us yet another reason to doubt his skills in this regard. Many have already forgotten about his seriously lacking attempt to put forth his own attorney, Harriet Miers, as a Supreme Court nominee. Anyone with common sense would have realized that was a pipe dream from the outset. Only those who see no wrong in what Bush does would have seen that as anything other than the short-sighted fiasco it became.
The examples of this continue all through his tenure. Who else would think that saying, “Bring ’em on” was a good idea? Who else would say, “You’re doing a hell of a job Brownie” to his FEMA guy while people were starving on rooftops and dying in the Superdome?
The latest example of his complete lack of common sense is with his handling of the whole Donald Rumsfeld situation. The moment he walked out for that press conference and started turning the discussion towards Rumsfeld I just knew this would be another of those moments.
First, he failed to realize that this was another example of why people shouldn’t listen to a word this man says. A week before he’d brazenly informed, in fact insisted, that Rumsfeld (and Dick Cheney) would be with him in their roles until the end of his term. This was a flat-out lie. He attempted to defend it by suggesting that he couldn’t say anything for two reasons. First, he hadn’t talked to his replacement yet and second, he didn’t want to give the Dems anything to help their cause so close to the election.
On the one hand we have the issue of the lie itself. It doesn’t matter how he justified it. In the end he believes that lies are fine as long as you have a “good reason” much the same way Rush Limbaugh admitted to being full of crap for his perceived good reason. This pretty much guarantees that the line about his having lacking intelligence before going into Iraq was a complete sham. He felt he had a good reason to go into Iraq and therefore it was perfectly okay to lie about it to get us to go along. Please explain how any right-thinking person isn’t supposed to connect those dots?
The fact that none of his reasons makes any common sense is the point I was getting at. While the lie is bad enough on its own, it’s the lack of common sense that shines through yet again. So what if Bush hadn’t talked to Rumsfeld’s successor yet. That doesn’t mean it made sense to go out and lie, aggressively, to the world about your thinking. Bush knew he wasn’t sticking around so it made no sense to go out and declare his support. He had to know, one hopes, that this would come up later after a move was made.
Second, and most telling, is Bush’s complete lack of understanding of the impact of the timing of this resignation. Bush had three options with respect to parting ways with Rumsfeld:
1. Let him go before the elections.
2. Let him go just after the elections as he did.
3. Let him go well after the elections.
Of the three options, the one he chose was clearly the least beneficial to his own cause. By letting him go immediately after the landslide victory by the Democrats there’s absolutely no way to avoid having it appear as if you did this because of the loss, especially when you admitted you lied just the week before about the situation.
Had he let Rumsfeld go before the elections I have absolutely no doubt (as do several ousted Congress members) that the Republicans would have at least held control of the Senate. So many of the races were decided by razor-thin margins. For many, Bush’s seemingly blind support for Rumsfeld came off as intransigence. The public was just worn-out with his inflexibility on everything and this statement was just another fine example of it, or so it seemed. Thus, a number of Republicans went to the polls believing one thing when, actually, their leader was about to be more responsive. Surely a number of those voters would have seen that as a positive step and would have voted to give him a sign of support, at least enough of him to sway any one of the close elections.
Had Bush decided to wait and let Rumsfeld go in another month he could have easily had it spun that the move was necessary, in the light of the elections, to garner future support from the Democrats. He could have looked to fight the good fight only to give in later in the face of overwhelming opposition. His party would have respected that.
Instead, lacking common sense, President Bush once again chose the worst possible option. It helped absolutely no one from his side of the aisle and only served to set many of the remaining supporters against him. That goes a long way towards explaining why his polling is now down to 33% approval. One has to wonder about that 33% but heck, in every poll there’s also that one surprising minority that just defies any explanation. They too lack common sense so it’s actually pretty fitting that the two come together for this issue.