The obvious conclusion to be drawn from Elisabeth Bumiller's "White House Letter" in today's New York Times is that Bush is an overgrown brat -- here's Bush, attempting to tune in a basketball game on Air Force One's newly installed big-screen TV and just plain whining:
Once on board, though, Mr. Bush had a little trouble with the controls. "He gets the remote and nothing's happening," [Representative Peter] King recounted. "He calls the steward and says, 'What's wrong with my television?' The look on his face was, 'I'm the most powerful guy in the world and I can't get my television to work.' And the guy comes back and says, 'It takes seven minutes to warm up.' "
Mr. Bush, Mr. King said, seemed amused, but threw a mock tantrum. "He said, 'Seven minutes!' " Mr. King recalled. " 'The game could be going into overtime! Anything could happen in seven minutes!' "
But what strikes me is the control-freak aspect of the TV incident:
Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican who spent eight hours with Mr. Bush on a trip to Long Island this month, said the president insisted that he and Representative Vito J. Fossella, another New York Republican, watch sports on the trip back to Washington.
"Coming back in the car," Mr. King said, "he's telling us: 'We're going to relax on the way back. You guys are going to watch the basketball game.' He was telling us about this new screen he has, how you can get ESPN."
"You guys are going to watch the basketball game." Not "You guys can watch the basketball game." It's an order.
It reminds me a little of the bullying Bush revealed in the bizarre New Mexico diner appearance back in January:
...Q Sir, on homeland security, critics would say you simply haven't spent enough to keep the country secure.
THE PRESIDENT: My job is to secure the homeland and that's exactly what we're going to do. But I'm here to take somebody's order. That would be you, Stretch -- what would you like? Put some of your high-priced money right here to try to help the local economy. You get paid a lot of money, you ought to be buying some food here. It's part of how the economy grows. You've got plenty of money in your pocket, and when you spend it, it drives the economy forward. So what would you like to eat?
Q Right behind you, whatever you order.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm ordering ribs. David, do you need a rib?
Q But Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: Stretch, thank you, this is not a press conference. This is my chance to help this lady put some money in her pocket. Let me explain how the economy works. When you spend money to buy food it helps this lady's business. It makes it more likely somebody is going to find work. So instead of asking questions, answer mine: are you going to buy some food? ...
I see a little of this desire to bully and control in Bush's speech last Friday:
Today, as Iraqis join the free peoples of the world, we mark a turning point for the Middle East, and a crucial advance for human liberty.
There have been disagreements in this matter, among old and valued friends. Those differences belong to the past.
Obviously those differences don't just belong to the past, but it's as if Bush is trying to will the statement to be true -- and is daring anyone to disagree.