Bush In The Bunker

I doubt President Bush is drinking again (although with him, anything is possible). That being said Bush probably feels like he is living in a pressure cooker (one of his own making, I hasten to add). And it appears he is not happy with it!

From tonight's uber-insider Washington newsletter The Nelson Report (sub reqd):

Sometimes insider gossip seems to confirm what all us outsiders think we're seeing, so, for what it's worth...we're hearing that some big money players up from Texas recently paid a visit to their friend in the White House. The story goes that they got out exactly one question, and the rest of the meeting consisted of The President in an extended whine, a rant, actually, about no one understands him, the critics are all messed up, if only people would see what he's doing things would be OK...etc., etc.

This is called a "bunker mentality" and it's not attractive when a friend does it. When the friend is the President of the United States, it can be downright dangerous. Apparently the Texas friends were suitably appalled, hence the story now in circulation.

Its relevance to various current issues is all too obvious, including the fate of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. Ask anyone at or close to the Bank, and you know, just as a professional, that Wolfowitz's effectiveness is finished, no matter what. But there are now other issues in play, assuming you think that the US role in selecting the Bank leadership remains important.

Here's a private comment summing up the entire situation, from a Loyal Reader out in the real world of the Rocky Mountains, who happens to be a lifetime Republican, and a business person. We pass it along, as it is representative of comments we get ALL the time from Republican friends...a mixture of hyperbole, irony, and angst...and is thus a cautionary tale in itself:

Sometimes I am tempted to feel sorry for Republicans like this, but then I remember that in the aftermath of 9/11 they choose tax-cuts and short-term partisan gain over national unity and then I realize they are and will get their just desserts.

As Nelson's interlocutor writes:

"You know, if Bush would stop his self-indulgent stubbornness for half a day, he could see plain as day that he has an opportunity to retain American control of the World Bank by easing Wolfie out. If he tries to keep Wolfie in that spot, American control could end.

I really wonder whether his failure to distinguish between necessary toughness and catastrophically shoot-ourselves-(America)-in-our-foot pigheadedness results from biological anomaly. His inability to harvest experience, and so to think and form successful judgements, is just so inexplicable".

Actually it's not inexplicable at all. See, Bush's interests--his legacy, his leverage vis-a-vis Congress and the like--diverge starkly from those of the U.S., the World Bank and the international community insofar as this: if it doesn't benefit Bush or redound to him in some positive way--most often only in a short term, expedient political sense--it's not worth the effort.

But I digress. Back to Nelson:

Assuming the Europeans want Wolfowitz out badly enough to compromise with the White House on his replacement, ARE there qualified Republican players available, at this point? One might be tempted to remind Bush that then-Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick wanted the Bank very much, and one might be tempted to add that Zoellick would have been a perfect choice professionally and personally...one who would never have embarrassed himself, the President, and his country, as Wolfowitz seems intent on doing.

One would probably be wrong to remind Bush of all this, and in any event, indicators are Zoellick rather enjoys making a zillion dollars as a big time investment banker, and so maybe he's not available.

One might then be tempted to suggest the former Asia Subcommittee chair, Rep. Jim Leach, an Iowa Republican whose defeat last Fall came almost entirely due to the war in Iraq, and who would be seen by most of the rest of the world as a superb choice from his days as a Foreign Service officer, and his three decades in the House, during which he served on both Foreign Affairs and, if memory serves, the Banking Committee.

Of course Leach is a "liberal Republican"...an endangered species, and not one generally found south of the Pecos River...and he was a persistent critic of Bush North Korea policy until the White House finally took his advice, and let Asst. Sec. State Chris Hill actually practice diplomacy. Leach is probably still waiting for the thank-you call on that.

But if temperament, talent, and training has anything to do with it, and with Wolfowitz now absolutely untenable, perhaps the White House might want to give Leach a call, over in his Wilson Center office. Just a suggestion.

But I imagine the White House will probably call Doug Feith, John Bolton or maybe even crazy Curt Weldon to run the bank when Wolfowitz goes. For Bush it's always about Bush's short-term political gain and nothing more.