A majority of the American public has, but it’s not often that former high-level aides speak so candidly about their boss and his failings. David Kuo was one. Matthew Dowd is now another.
A top strategist for the Texas Democrats who was disappointed by the Bill Clinton years, [Matthew] Dowd was impressed by the pledge of Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, to bring a spirit of cooperation to Washington. He switched parties, joined Mr. BushÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s political brain trust and dedicated the next six years to getting him to the Oval Office and keeping him there. In 2004, he was appointed the presidentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s chief campaign strategist.
Looking back, Mr. Dowd now says his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced.
And here he speaks to Bush’s Achilles’ heel…
He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œmy way or the highwayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI really like him, which is probably why IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m so disappointed in things,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? he said. He added, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI think heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚?
The curtain has been ripped open to reveal that nearly everything we suspected about Bush’s leadership style is backed up by the stories and disappointments of the people who worked closest with him. This is a big deal, and probably one of the reasons why Bush will go down as one of our less celebrated Presidents. He wasn’t interested in building bridges. He was only interested in doing what he thought was right. And that kind of insulated dogmatism is poisonous for any nation. We’ll be feeling the effects for many years to come.
And one last note from Dowd…maybe this should be the moderate meme…
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI think we should design campaigns that appeal not to 51 percent of the people,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? he said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œbut bring the country together as a whole.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚?
Easier said than done.