'No modern president has seen such a sustained rejection;' Kissinger: Bush 'at peace with himself'
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President Bush is holding private meetings "over sodas and sparkling water" in which he asks trusted advisers -- "Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?"
This according to the Washington Post.
"Not generally known for intellectual curiosity, Bush is seeking out those who are, engaging in a philosophical exploration of the currents of history that have swept up his administration," the Post's Peter Baker writes in the lead story for Monday's paper. "These sessions, usually held in the Oval Office or the elegant living areas of the executive mansion, are never listed on the president's public schedule and remain largely unknown even to many on his staff."
To some, "Bush seems alone, isolated by events beyond his control, with trusted advisers taking their leave and erstwhile friends turning on him."
But he remains upbeat, the article says.
"You don't get any feeling of somebody crouching down in the bunker," said a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who talked to Baker. "This is either extraordinary self-confidence or out of touch with reality. I can't tell you which."
Bush's setbacks are manifold. "No modern president has experienced such a sustained rejection by the American public," Baker writes. "Bush's approval rating slipped below 50 percent in Washington Post-ABC News polls in January 2005 and has not topped that level in the 30 months since. The last president mired under 50 percent so long was Harry S. Truman. Even Richard M. Nixon did not fall below 50 percent until April 1973, 16 months before he resigned."
Among his woes: Hurricane Katrina, Jack Abramoff, Harriet Miers, Scooter Libby, Alberto Gonzales, Monica Goodling, Vice President Dick Cheney, Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson, Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, Paul Wolfowitz, immigration, CIA prisons, "torture," Guantanamo Bay, warrantless wiretapping, FOIA, the estate tax, Social Security, Osama Bin Laden, journalists, faltering Republican allies, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Conyers, Patrick Leahy, Henry Waxman, a Democratic Congress and Iraq. Perhaps his most salient victories were the appointment of two conservative bona fides to the Supreme Court -- John Roberts and Samuel Alito -- which have, in recent days, shown they will leave a lasting conservative legacy.
Notes Baker: "Other presidents have been crushed by the pressure. Lyndon B. Johnson was tormented by Vietnam War protesters outside his window shouting, 'Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?' Nixon swam in self-pity during Watergate, talking to paintings and once asking Henry Kissinger to pray with him. Bill Clinton fumed against enemies and nursed deep grievances during his impeachment battle."
Kissinger told the Post Bush wasn't Nixon.
"I find him serene," Kissinger said. "I know President Johnson was railing against his fate. That's not the case with Bush. He feels he's doing what he needs to do, and he seems to me at peace with himself."
Read the massive Post article here.