“I’m the decider, and I decide what’s best. And what’s best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense.” Thus spake Presidnt Bush in yesterday’s Rose Garden defense of his embattled Defense Secretary. And there, in a nutshell, is the Bush governing philosophy. I know best. Period. Leave everything to me. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. Don’t question my decisions. Don’t bother looking at the facts—at least, not at any facts that might contradict my version of reality. And don’t you dare criticize my decisions unless you want to wind up branded an unpatriotic, fuzzy-headed, soft-on-terrorist type.
I can see how, once upon a time, this sort of macho, decisive, take-no-prisoners, govern-with-your-gut approach to the presidency had a certain appeal. Who wants a wishy-washy leader when the Islamist baddies are plotting the nation’s demise? And even if we suspected Bush wasn’t exactly the most curious or engaged or well-informed commander-in-chief, we were assured that he had a gift for picking smart, curious, engaged, talented advisers—people with “good hearts”--who would keep our CEO-president just informed enough to make good decisions.
But three-plus years of Iraq have pretty much shown the absurdity of that claim. Or at least it has introduced enough doubt into the equation that we really ought to demand more of an explanation for the seemingly ill-advised actions (or inaction) of our leader other than: “I’m the Daddy, that’s why.”
No one doubts that Bush knows how to make decisions. The increasingly pertinent question is whether he knows how to make good ones.