(Update Added Below)
Poor George. He can't help it. Even out of office, he reinforces the narcissistic traits that were a hallmark of his failed presidency.
On Tuesday, he popped into a political science classroom at SMU, home of his future library. He gave a ten minute talk to students, and took questions. As related in the Feb. 25 Dallas Morning News:
He told them during his terms, he chose to make decisions based on his own convictions and what he believed in, rather than polls or other influences.
This is what happens when one gets anointed president by the unelected judges of the Supreme Court, a first in our history. With power borne of an undeserved imprimatur, maybe Bush shouldn't be teaching his lessons to the leaders of tomorrow.
Remember what he said in 2001, after meeting Vladimir Putin? "I looked the man in the eye...I was able to get a sense of his soul." No doubt "Pooty-Poot" (Bush's typically immature nickname for the Russian) and his KGB alums had a good laugh on their flight back to Moscow.
More recently, in November 2007, he actually told a Republican fundraising audience in San Antonio, "You can't make profound decisions for America unless you are certain in your soul."
Whatever his secret, he should bottle and sell it. Lincoln wasn't so undoubting in the depths of the Civil War, nor LBJ during Vietnam. Unlike Bush, they didn't sleep soundly in their White House years.
Did he bother to consult his own father on Iraq? After all, dad engaged Saddam Hussein a mere decade earlier.
"I asked the president about this," Bob Woodward told CBS' 60 Minutes in 2004. "And President Bush said, 'Well, no,' and then he got defensive about it. Then he said something that really struck me. He said of his father, 'He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice. And then he said, 'There's a higher Father that I appeal to.'"
We also learned from Woodward's book Plan Of Attack that Bush didn't seek advice from his own Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in the decision to invade Iraq. The State Department, constitutionally designed as the nation's diplomatic arm, was marginalized throughout Bush's time in office.
The Treasury Department got ignored, too. By the bitter end, there was no rising economic tide to lift any boats, not to mention yachts.
Today, the bizarrely self-proclaimed "Commander Guy" and "Decider" is once again insisting that he, and he alone, was the brains of the whole outfit. This sentiment is not rare on his part. It's a pattern, like adult male baldness.
It's doubly embarrassing because the results -- here and abroad -- aren't worth claiming authorship. Bush truly is reminiscent of someone who, as populist Jim Hightower famously quipped, "was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."
To paraphrase an old country lyric: Thank God and Greyhound he's gone!
UPDATE: Oops! He's back. According to a March 17 Associated Press story, Bush said the following in Canada during his first post-presidential speech, regarding his upcoming memoir:
"I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened."
Normally, we ask someone to "put yourself in my place," but notice he's not asking. He's doing the putting, and he emphasizes the point by immediately referring to himself as an "authoritarian voice." Notice, too, that he doesn't say an "authoritative voice."
If he's oblivious to the difference between those two words, he's a dolt. If he knows the difference, he's dangerously un-American. Either way, this explains the past eight years.
I've said it before: When he lost his shirt as a small time oilman, few were hurt. When a group of wealthy Texans installed the son of the U.S. president as managing partner of a baseball team, and he traded away the rising star Sammy Sosa in '89, only their fans cried. When he took over the weakest constitutional governorship of all 50 states, his impact was confined.
With the house keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, however, he finally got a gig where his incompetence and lack of natural intellect could do serious damage on a broad scale.
And now he claims to be history's sole arbiter of "exactly what happened?"
Spare us. We've already paid.