I Think He’s Lost Noonan

Peggy Noonan, who seemed to effectively give up on Bush’s presidency six weeks ago, during the immigration debate, wrote one of her less-annoying columns today.

In fact, she raises a good point about the president’s demeanor.

As I watched the news conference, it occurred to me that one of the things that might leave people feeling somewhat disoriented is the president’s seemingly effortless high spirits. He’s in a good mood. There was the usual teasing, the partly aggressive, partly joshing humor, the certitude. He doesn’t seem to be suffering, which is jarring. Presidents in great enterprises that are going badly suffer: Lincoln, LBJ with his head in his hands. Why doesn’t Mr. Bush? Every major domestic initiative of his second term has been ill thought through and ended in failure. His Iraq leadership has failed. His standing is lower than any previous president’s since polling began. He’s in a good mood. Discuss.

Is it defiance? Denial? Is it that he’s right and you’re wrong, which is your problem? Is he faking a certain steely good cheer to show his foes from Washington to Baghdad that the American president is neither beaten nor bowed? Fair enough: Presidents can’t sit around and moan. But it doesn’t look like an act. People would feel better to know his lack of success sometimes gets to him. It gets to them.

You know, that’s true. This president has had more calamities, of greater consequence, than any president should be allowed. And yet, he brags about how well he sleeps, he takes more vacation time than any president in history, and he’s constantly smirking, as if he hasn’t a care in the world.

The president has the weight of the world on his shoulders. How about showing some signs of stress?


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