Many Bush critics make the mistake of underestimating him. This is one area where he has surprised with his ability to take a presumably bottomed out status and bottom it some more.
Bush's latest return with the same brash cockiness that has been a staple item recalls the words of a professor of his at Harvard, where he pursued a master of business administration degree. What the professor found in Bush's behavior, which included coming to class equipped with chewing tobacco and spitting pieces of it into a cup, was not so much a fundamental deficiency of intelligence but a glaring absence of parental development.
His father, George H.W. Bush, was criticized for a spoiled patrician's manner. Critics said that he resembled someone who had been born on third base and was convinced that he had hit a triple.
George W. Bush has checkmated his father in that category. The younger Bush resembles someone who had been born at home plate and is convinced that he circled the bases so often that he shattered all previous home run records.
His arrogance in putting a deceptive spin on his presidential record was almost equaled by his brashness at hawking his book. His frequently repeated mantra when interviewer Matt Lauer of NBC would quote a critic was not to state disagreement so much as to say, "Let him buy the book."
Bush has put a newer spin on the war he started in Iraq, which after numerous modifications had shifted from protecting ourselves from the impending "mushroom cloud" that Condoleezza Rice described resulting from Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" to "We overthrew a bad man!"
Bush offered another explanation to Lauer. Since Iraqi scientists had the chemical components that comprise nuclear weapons it was essential to stop Saddam Hussein before he could unleash them on America.
Scientist A possesses certain chemical components in his laboratory. He might therefore at some point in the future use them to make deliverable nuclear weapons that could incinerate the world.
This is an argument comparable to justification for Reagan's invasion of Grenada. Cuban construction workers were helping to build an airport. In the future could that airport not be used to launch airplanes that could launch a nuclear attack on America?
After clearing up the weapons of mass destruction issue, Bush went on to quickly dispose of the outing of CIA weapons intelligence specialist Valerie Plame as an angry neocon reprisal against her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, launched by stalwarts Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Robert Novak. Outed CIA specialists had been killed in the past.
To Bush the Valerie Plame incident was no more than a misunderstanding. While he resisted Cheney's effort to have him pardon Libby, there were no hard feelings in the final analysis.
He called Cheney a "good soldier," the same person who maximized his college deferments and finally impregnated his wife to avoid serving a cause in Vietnam that he verbally championed. Then again, Bush's powerful father got him a coveted post in the Texas National Guard, from which he eventually bolted.
The most interesting and in many ways the most revealing expression of Bush's hubris was his disclosure of what he viewed as the "worst moment" of his presidency. It occurred when African American rapper, singer, and record producer Kanye West called him a racist for perceived indifference to Hurricane Katrina.
Here was someone who launched the Iraq War and, at the time the first bombs were falling on Baghdad, pumped a clenched fist into the air and exclaimed, "Feels good!"
Bush was also in office when 9/11 occurred, resulting in tragic loss of American life. He could justify repeated violations of civil liberties at home and flouting of laws abroad through waterboarding and rendition by citing the tragedies of 9/11, but at the end of the day an inarticulate and brash rapper's accusation represented the worst moment of his eight years in the Oval Office.
Winston Churchill was Britain's prime minister during World War Two. He personally witnessed wholesale destruction of the land he loved and was a major architect of war strategy in a conflict that resulted in an estimated 50 million deaths.