"Nothing says power like the Oval Office," begins the article. "The paintings of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The bust of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The desk used by both Roosevelts. And then there's the rug. Don't forget the rug. President Bush never does. For whatever reason, Bush seems fixated on his rug. Virtually all visitors to the Oval Office find him regaling them about how it was chosen and what it represents. Turns out, he always says, the first decision any president makes is what carpet he wants in his office. As a take-charge leader, he then explains, he of course made a command decision - he delegated the decision to Laura Bush, who chose a yellow sunbeam design."
The article goes on to describe, in writhing detail, how George W. Bush inserts the Oval Office rug into virtually every conversation he has. If a discussion veers away into matters of import, Bush steers it back to the rug. "He loves his rug," said Nicolle Wallace, the White House communications director, in the Post article. "I've heard him describe it countless times."
The article, to be sure, was meant to be lighthearted. It left me, however, in a state of deep disturbance. All he can talk about is his rug? With everything that is going on these days, he wants to focus on the rug. Dead soldiers? Rug. Civil war? Rug. Complete and total failure? Complete and total rug.
The man is deranged, disconnected, dangerous. It appears, finally, that a significant portion of the country now sees this clearly. Only 33% of Americans, according to the latest Pew poll, approve of Mr. Bush and the job he is doing.
Hey, it only took five years. It has suddenly become all the rage to jump all over this administration. Pundits from every corner, including more than a few conservatives, are apparently waking up to the fact that they stapled themselves to Casey Jones's train. Hell, even right-wing avatar Peggy Noonan is saying that if she knew then what she knew now, she wouldn't have voted for Bush. Here's the kicker, though, and a good explanation for that lingering 33% support: Noonan says she wouldn't vote for Bush because he is actually a liberal. The blind leading the blind has become the deranged following the deranged. Go figure.
Speaking of deranged, and of the 33-percenters, let me show you something. This was put together by one of the administrators of the web forum DemocraticUnderground, who noticed that news reports out of Iraq seem to continuously use the phrase "a recent surge of violence" to describe what is happening there. Feast:
Middle East Online, September 3, 2003: "Meanwhile, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac were to meet in Germany on Thursday to discuss ways for the West to respond to the recent surge in violence in Iraq and the Middle East."
UK Telegraph, October 31, 2003: "Ansar is believed to be channeling into Iraq the foreign fighters who are behind a recent surge in violence in the country, officials say."
KNI News, November 3, 2003: "Bush blamed loyalists to ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorists for the recent surge in violence in Iraq."
Reuters, March 4, 2004: "A wave of bomb attacks in Baghdad and Karbala killing at least 171 people earlier this week has highlighted the difficulties in rebuilding the country and restoring peace. But Mr. Blair, speaking after a meeting in Rome with his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, said the recent surge in violence in Iraq did not constitute civil war."
Radio Free Europe, April 14, 2004: "US President George W. Bush held a major news conference at the White House on 13 April in the middle of the deadliest month for Americans in Iraq since Baghdad fell a year ago. He spoke of the recent surge in violence there, but urged his countrymen not to lose faith. He also said he would adhere to the 30 June deadline for handing over sovereignty to Iraqis."
US State Department, April 15, 2004: "Pace said the recent surge in violence in Iraq is being driven by 'terrorists' who see the June 30 deadline for turnover of sovereignty approaching rapidly and are petrified by the promise of democracy."
CBS News, April 26, 2004: "Lt. Gen. David Barno, the top American commander in Afghanistan, said Monday that the military has seen a recent surge in violence, but that most attacks were directed against soft targets, such as civilians or isolated Afghan security outposts."