Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip

Democrats are really beside themselves. Unable to attack the president on either foreign or domestic policy, they have taken to criticizing his demeanor. The president is apparently not morose enough on the eve of going to war.

Joe Klein is particularly upset that the president doesn't seem too burdened by the prospect of military action. Such a decision should weigh more heavily on the president (or seem to) than Klein thinks it does on Bush. Bill Clinton felt our pain; Klein wants to feel Bush's. And he is dismayed that there isn't any (or so it seems). Moreover, Klein assumes that anyone who is religious, as Bush is, must be feeling more anguish than the president displays. Klein stops short of calling Bush a hypocrite, but he wonders about the depth of Bush's belief.

But how does Klein know what the president's deepest thoughts are? Does he fancy himself such a perceptive reader of character that he can discern such things without the benefit of closeness? Has the presidency become so rhetorical, not to say confessional, that we expect to know the depths of every executive's soul? And if the president is suffering over the decision, why should he show it? Isn't there something noble about hiding your pain, especially in the Age of Oprah?

What a relief, what a salve for my own anxiety, to have a president who doesn't suffer from existential angst or malaise, or who doesn't show it if he does. Sorry for that confession.


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