I’ve never been in a room with the Bullshitter-in-Chief. So it’s difficult to say what he’s like in person. Difficult but not impossible. Here’s a description I’d agree with:
There was something about [him] that was hard to abide, a prototypical personality any southerner recognizes — one characterized by a combination of self-satisfaction, stupidity, and a suggestion of imminent violence, all of it glossed over with a veneer of moral and patriotic respectabiity.
That’s former Texas-Ranger-turned-Montana-defense-lawyer Billy Bob Holland talking about a shit heel U.S. senator in “In the Moon of the Red Ponies,” a non-Proustian novel by James Lee Burke, left, who was born in Texas, not incidentally, and is wise in the ways of shit heels.
David Brooks, below, has been in a room with the bullshitter. His NYT op-ed column today describes a 90-minute interview, sort of a group grope with several journalists, in the Oval Office. It begins this way:
A leader’s first job is to project authority, and George Bush certainly does that. … Bush swallowed up the room, crouching forward to energetically make a point or spreading his arms wide to illustrate the scope of his ideas — always projecting confidence and intensity.
I interview politicians for a living, and every time I brush against Bush I’m reminded that this guy is different. There’s none of that hunger for approval that is common to the breed. This is the most inner-directed man on the globe.
Swallowed up the room? (Not on my TV.) Scope of ideas? (A gunscope maybe.) Inner-directed? (How about Cheney-directed or Rove-directed.)
The other striking feature of his conversation is that he possesses an unusual perception of time. Washington, and modern life in general, encourages people to think in the short term. But Bush, who stands aloof, thinks in long durations.
Huh? The “long durations” I’ve noticed are the empty sighs between words, the confused mumbling, the vacant expressions. On my TV he’s lost without his teleprompter. As for Brooks, he’s proved again he’s the goofiest columnist going: a pundit who’d rather write Proustian fiction.
And btw, a leader’s first job is to project authority? (Say hello to Kim Jong Il.)