I once heard the actor James Cagney reminisce with eloquent brevity about his hard-drinking father. By the time of the younger Cagney’s adolescence, pop, he said, had swilled himself into that psychological vortex of “a good man going downhill fast.”
Most liberals would redact the “good” from that character sketch to describe George W. Bush’s current and personal state of affairs, but even conservatives and their more right-wing and militant brethren privately concur these days with the “going downhill fast” part. Never has a fall from presidential grace occurred with such rapidity and conspicuousness.
Katrina and Rita were huge stories in their own right, of course, but the latter took on a unique hugeness only because it followed the former’s hugeness being simultaneously overshadowed by the huger hugeness of Bush’s incompetence in responding. Political fallout, not nature’s, became Katrina’s primary narrative, and a political eulogy became its color commentary. Bush’s swagger swiftly devolved to feigned humility, then abject supplication. He desperately needs voters to cut him some slack, and the man who claims not to care about polling numbers is now willing to say or do anything to bump them up.
George W. Bush