Monday, December 13, 2004

One last comment about the Kerik mess -- and what it tells us about Bush.

First, here's The New York Times today on Bush's early response to Giuliani:

...Republicans say that Mr. Bush felt little affection for Mr. Giuliani, and that he was particularly perplexed as the mayor allowed his personal life to unravel publicly in the spring of 2000.

"There aren't a lot of people close to the president who have those kind of experiences," said the Republican close to the administration, referring to Mr. Giuliani's admissions of infidelity with the woman who became his third wife and to his bitter split from his second wife, Donna Hanover.

"It's an issue of not understanding it. I've had discussions with him where he's asked, 'What's this guy all about?'"

By contrast, Newsweek says that Bush was quite taken with Kerik when he got to know him, citing Kerik's "willingness to get things done, and damn the naysayers" as "[t]he very qualities that appealed to President Bush," and going on to note that Bush

liked the idea of Kerik -- the self-made tough guy -- and he dismissed as gossip or press carping newspaper stories about Kerik's bending the rules.

So Bush didn't get either one of them.

In 2000, he looked at Rudy and saw a guy whose marriage was crumbling, who was openly engaged in adultery, and who was being mocked in the press for it all. Yet Rudy had a reputation as a tough guy. How was that possible? In the eyes of a Bush, a man with personal problems, especially personal problems he can't keep secret, is weak; how can a weak man also be a tough guy?

Kerik, by contrast, clearly was a tough guy when Bush got to know him. A tough guy can't possibly be weak, can he?


I don't think conservatives are stupid. But I do think conservatives tend to see the world as black and white, good and evil. (I think most conservatives would admit that, and cite it as a virtue.)

A tough man is a steadfast man is a man of virtue. That's the myth of the cowboy; it's the myth of Bush in the eyes of his conservative base; and it really might be what Bush himself thinks. If so, no wonder he couldn't believe Kerik had any serious scandals in his life -- how could an ex-narc who's done buy-and-busts be anything but virtuous?

No comments: