It's an understatement to say that there's a gaping chasm in the way supporters and detractors view George W. Bush. His followers see him as a visionary leader, a pious, resolute hero. For the most part, the establishment media have been happy to push this myth. Bush's opponents, on the other hand, see him as a callous and dangerously inept man, monumentally unqualified for the most important job in the world.
The online community was making the case against Bush long before his poll numbers dropped into the low 30's. Democratic Underground's "10-percenters" were the determined few who didn't buy into the post-9/11 Bush hype. Digby described it best: "I know that without us there would have been virtually no critical voices during the long period between 2001 and the presidential primary campaign during 2003. We were it. The media were overt, enthusiastic Bush boosters for well over two years and created an environment in which Democratic dissent (never welcome) was non-existent to the average American viewer. In fact, it took Bush's approval rating falling to below 40% before they would admit that he was in trouble.
"I believe that if it had not been for the constant underground drumbeat from the fever swamps over the past five years, when the incompetence, malfeasance and corruption finally hit critical mass last summer with the bad news from Iraq, oil prices and Katrina, Bush would not have sunk as precipitously as he did and stayed there. It literally took two catastrophes of epic proportions to break the media from its narrative of Bush's powerful leadership. And this after two extremely close elections ---- and the lack of any WMD in Iraq."
As if to put an exclamation mark on Digby's argument, Democratic Underground has dug up a jaw-dropping 2003 Ladies' Home Journal interview with the Bushes. Having been in Manhattan on that day and watched two limbs of my home city get amputated, I find the following excerpt astounding:
"[Peggy] Noonan: You were separated on September 11th. What was it like when you saw each other again?
Mrs. Bush: Well, we just hugged. I think there was a certain amount of security in being with each other than being apart.
President Bush: But the day ended on a relatively humorous note. The agents said, "You'll be sleeping downstairs. Washington's still a dangerous place." And I said no, I can't sleep down there, the bed didn't look comfortable. I was really tired, Laura was tired, we like our own bed. We like our own routine. You know, kind of a nester. Like the way things are. I knew I had to deal with the issue the next day and provide strength and comfort to the country, and so I needed rest in order to be mentally prepared. So I told the agent we're going upstairs, and he reluctantly said okay. Laura wears contacts, and she was sound asleep. Barney was there. And the agent comes running up and says, "We're under attack. We need you downstairs," and so there we go. I'm in my running shorts and my T-shirt, and I'm barefooted. Got the dog in one hand, Laura had a cat, I'm holding Laura --
Mrs. Bush: I don't have my contacts in, and I'm in my fuzzy house slippers --
President Bush: And this guy's out of breath, and we're heading straight down to the basement because there's an incoming unidentified airplane, which is coming toward the White House. Then the guy says it's a friendly airplane. And we hustle all the way back upstairs and go to bed.
Mrs. Bush: [laughs] And we just lay there thinking about the way we must have looked.
Noonan: So the day starts in tragedy and ends in Marx Brothers.
President Bush: That's right -- we got a laugh out of it." [Emphasis added]
I've plucked a couple of comments out of the DU thread: "Disgusting! While the rest of the country was in tears watching 24 hour news, * was worried about being "comfortable" and having a good laugh." --- "'Bin Laden plans to attack US' ...that was funny too, right jr?" --- "Ya know what really burns my cork about this? I remember not being able to sleep AT ALL on 9/11. The Bushes are sick people." --- "That fact is what stuns me as well. The one night you'd think his riggin routine would be affected would be on that night. I am just struck dumb. I'm Canadian and I stayed at work till 4 a.m. activating several hundred satellite phones on 911 so they could be driven down to NYC. I was so devastated at what happened that I was thrilled to have an opportunity to do one small thing to help and I wouldn't have been able to sleep even if I had gone home. That bush would simply want to keep his routine and laugh about his appearance is beyond the pale."