Who stole the strawberries?
If life really imitates art, are we seeing a crucial scene from the Caine Mutiny? I mean I can almost see Captain Phillip Queeg rolling those metal balls in his hands and complaining about the missing strawberries every time I look at George Bush these days.
For those too young to remember the book by Herman Wouk or movie starring Humphrey Bogart, the plot centers around a fictitious court martial of sailors who mutinied against an obsessive, paranoid leader.
All that was missing from Bush's Rose Garden press conference yesterday were the strawberries Queeg accused his men of pilfering.
“Instead of passing clean bills that fund our troops on the front lines," Bush said, "the House and Senate have spent this time debating bills that undercut the troops.”This from the man (and the man lurking in the background of the Times photo) who failed to provide adequate body armor or equipment to troops that in turn led to an increase in traumatic brain injuries that Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Veterans Administration hospitals have failed to adequately treat.
But Democrats are undercutting the troops. Yeah, right.
This has not been a good week for W. First, his 2004 campaign campaign chairman takes to the front page of the New York Times to express his disillusionment with his old boss. Matthew Dowd admitted that he wrote, but never submitted an op-ed entitled "Kerry Was Right"in calling for a withdrawal from Iraq.
Next up, in the Washington Post was Vic Gold -- a GOP operative who started with Barry Goldwater and even defended Spiro Agnew to the end, friend to Bush 41 and office mate of Lynne Cheney -- and out with a book that offers this description:
"For all the Rove-built facade of his being a 'strong' chief executive, George W. Bush has been, by comparison to even hapless Jimmy Carter, the weakest, most out of touch president in modern times. Think Dan Quayle in cowboy boots."Ouch.
So we have George W. Bush playing cowboy again, telling Congress to stop dawdling, get back to town and pass an Iraq funding bill that doesn't include a deadline for troop withdrawal -- a position backed by American voters in the last election and by the Iraq Study Group created by Congress.
Or we have the supposedly chastened Bush criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for going to Syria to do what the Iraq Study Group recommended -- talk with other key players in the mess we created in the Middle East.
The Washington Post's Peter Baker doesn't quite call Bush a spoiled child threatening to hold his breath until he gets his way. But he comes close:
As Democrats see it, Bush is having a hard time adjusting to life in a two-party government. His vow to veto any spending bill with timetables for a withdrawal, they maintain, betrays a unilateral approach to governing. "He is president of the United States, not king of the United States," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) told reporters in his home state. "He has another branch of government, a legislative branch of government, he has to deal with."So we are left with the image of Captain Queeg, searching for the strawberries and cursing the men he commands. Or maybe that of Richard Nixon, roaming the halls of the White House, talking to the portraits?