[lit-ideas] Is the White House spinning out of control?

  • From: "Andreas Ramos" <andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 4 Jun 2004 16:55:01 -0700

Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides
By DOUG THOMPSON, Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_4636.shtml
Jun 4, 2004,

President George W. Bush's increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood
swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately
express growing concern over their leader's state of mind. In meetings with
top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the
Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and
others that he classifies as "enemies of the state."

Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge,
increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public
that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home. "It reminds me of the
Nixon days," says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the
White House. "Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That's the
mood over there."

In interviews with a number of White House staffers who were willing to talk
off the record, a picture of an administration under siege has emerged, led
by a man who declares his decisions to be "God's will" and then tells aides
to "fuck over" anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.
"We're at war, there's no doubt about it. What I don't know anymore is just
who the enemy might be," says one troubled White House aide. "We seem to
spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda and our enemies
list just keeps growing and growing."

Aides say the President gets "hung up on minor details," micromanaging to
the extreme while ignoring the bigger picture. He will spend hours
personally reviewing and approving every attack ad against his Democratic
opponent and then kiss off a meeting on economic issues. "This is what is
killing us on Iraq," one aide says. "We lost focus. The President got hung
up on the weapons of mass destruction and an unproven link to al Qaeda. We
could have found other justifiable reasons for the war but the President
insisted the focus stay on those two, tenuous items."

Aides who raise questions quickly find themselves shut out of access to the
President or other top advisors. Among top officials, Bush's inner circle is
shrinking. Secretary of State Colin Powell has fallen out of favor because
of his growing doubts about the administration's war against Iraq.

The President's abrupt dismissal of CIA Directory George Tenet Wednesday
night is, aides say, an example of how he works. "Tenet wanted to quit last
year but the President got his back up and wouldn't hear of it," says an
aide. "That would have been the opportune time to make a change, not in the
middle of an election campaign but when the director challenged the
President during the meeting Wednesday, the President cut him off by saying
'that's it George. I cannot abide disloyalty. I want your resignation and I
want it now."

Tenet was allowed to resign "voluntarily" and Bush informed his shocked
staff of the decision Thursday morning. One aide says the President actually
described the decision as "God's will." God may also be the reason Attorney
General John Ashcroft, the administration's lightning rod because of his
questionable actions that critics argue threatens freedoms granted by the
Constitution, remains part of the power elite. West Wing staffers call Bush
and Ashcroft "the Blues Brothers" because "they're on a mission from God."
"The Attorney General is tight with the President because of religion," says
one aide. "They both believe any action is justifiable in the name of God."

But the President who says he rules at the behest of God can also
tongue-lash those he perceives as disloyal, calling them "fucking assholes"
in front of other staff, berating one cabinet official in front of others
and labeling anyone who disagrees with him "unpatriotic" or "anti-American."

"The mood here is that we're under siege, there's no doubt about it," says
one troubled aide who admits he is looking for work elsewhere. "In this
administration, you don't have to wear a turban or speak Farsi to be an
enemy of the United States. All you have to do is disagree with the
President."

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