I would like to propose a very strange thought: that the country might be better off for this recent election, not because the Democrats won, but because George Bush is better suited to being a compromiser than a leader.
Clearly, he is a principled man. But he is not a strong man. His certitude is brittle; he is simultaneously angry and anxious to be liked. The fingerprints of a boy trying to be a man are all over his manner and actions, and I say this with a generous, not a vindictive, heart. He was simply given the keys to too big a car, and he couldn’t drive it without help.
Before this election, the help he sought was from Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rove. Now I think he is facing a hard reality: those people have made him disliked and disrespected. In the darkness of his own night, he has to be looking at those election results and saying, “Those people out there hate me.” And he does not want to be hated. It takes a very odd man, like Donald Rumsfeld, to gain nourishment from being hated. I don’t think GW is one of those men.
He wants to be liked, and he wants to be led. He wants to be embraced as a good man. This election forced him to look outside the limits of his own circle and see that, to the extent that a man is what he does, he is seen as a bad man. This is not something with which he wants to live.
The real wager is if he stiffens his brittle spine once more, and under the shadowy influence of Dick Cheney, chooses to become delusional and go down in some kind of Shakespearean flames. Or if he decides the group from whom he needs approval is the congress that the people elected in repudiation of his politics and/or person, and seeks a personal redemption by trying to make them his friends.
It will be an inner struggle worth watching.
I, personally, root for the man. I was rooting for him to fall, because his naive arrogance was costing lives and squandering our country’s moral capital. I never doubted his sincerity; I simply doubted his insight and policies. Now he has taken that fall. The real drama, for the next two years, is to see whose hand he reaches for to help him stand up.