May 27, 2006

Performance Problems? Or, No Longer That Kind Of Guy?


Reporter: Mr. President, you spoke about missteps and mistakes in Iraq. Could I ask both of you which missteps and mistakes of your own you most regret?

Bush: Sounds like kind of a familiar refrain here. Saying “bring it on.” Kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. But I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner. You know, “wanted dead or alive.” That kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted. And so I learned from that.

  — From Thursday evening Bush/Blair Press Conference

Here’s where I’m a little confused about this cover.  The illustration equates the loss of virility with the failure of Bush’s aggressive and adventurist policies.  With Bush’s more moderate stance on immigration, however, and now the admission that his macho attitude was a central failing in prosecuting the war, what does the illustration say about Bush’s political shift to a more humble style?

And, does a softer Bush make any sense at this point?

The wingnuts have been completely taken aback by Bush’s sudden “emasculation.”  In what stands as a profound statement, Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs didn’t even mention the Bush-Blair press conference.  On Hot Air (Malkin’s new conservative video blog), on the other hand, the discussion thread attached to the clip of Bush’s statement of “regret” was dripping with disgust over Bush’s “wimpification.”

Although supportive of the new, more fortified Democrats, The Prospect’s lead article ultimately builds an argument for American leaders abandoning the macho act.  For someone like Bush, however, who has built his whole persona around testosterone and swagger, you have to wonder how soon the death of “Bring it On” might spawn similar illustrations in the right wing press.

(Full transcript/video of Bush-Blair press conference)

(image:  Aaron Morales. Sculpted illustration by Liz Lomax.  The American Prospect, Volume 17, Issue 6. June 2006)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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