After the debate, reporters were looking for explanations from the Bush spin team about the President’s demeanor. The list of possibilities that were put to Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman included defensive; confused; irritated; and tired. In the next few days, anger and lack of confidence were added to the list.
You would think that the Bush team would be most sensitive to questions about Bush’s temperment and composure. The persona they have constructed for him is so dependent on his supposed amiability and also his supposed grace under fire. In light of this, what I found particularly interesting was the extent to which the Bush people freaked out over the suggestion that Bush was tired.
It seems that, after the debate, the Drudge Report ran a comment (attributed to Bush’s inner circle) blaming his poor performance on the fact that he was tired from visiting with hurricane victims. As ABC’s The Note reports, Dan Bartlett (appearing on the “Fox and Friends” show over the weekend) was vehement in dispelling this idea, calling it “ridiculous.” “He wasn’t tired,” the Note quotes Bartlett. “He was very much engaged in this debate.”
In his column this weekend, Frank Rich discusses a new film being released this week called “George W. Bush: Faith in the White House.” I think some of his comments shed light on the “tired” reaction. The film, a fundamentalist Christian perspective of the President, essentially casts Bush as a missionary and his presidency as a crusade. As Rich delves into this extreme point of view, he expresses the likelihood that Bush, himself, actually believes this.
Let’s assume that Bush actually does perceive himself a messenger of God, and the literal defender of a greater good. If so, it would go a long way toward explaining the awkwardness and indignation in having to explain his actions and rationale. Still, God might get angry. God might even get defensive at times. But, it would just be out of the question for the almighty to display physical wear and tear.