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Monday, September 12, 2005

Now Who’s the Closer?

Posted by on September 12 at 10:30 AM

Remember when John Kerry was the guy with a rep for only taking things seriously when it was the fourth quarter and he was down? This “closer” image of Kerry was hyped during the presidential race by Kerry’s supporters, but it mainly served to make him seem like a lazy son of privilege who would only come back from windsurfing off Nantucket if it really, really, really seemed like he had to. Bush, in contrast, had a rep as a hands-on manager always ready for a fight, and he rode it to victory. How times have changed.

These two articles on Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina, one in Time and one in Newsweek, are getting a lot of buzz today in the blogosphere because they show a Bush that his advisers have long tried to hide, a Bush who is much like the caricature of Kerry: A man more concerned with maintaining his sense of comfort than with leading, and so aloof he doesn’t sense political danger until it’s almost too late.

Longtime Bush watchers say they are not shocked that he missed his momentone of his most trusted confidants calls him “a better third- and fourth-quarter player,” who focuses and delivers when he sees the stakes.

One doubts Bush underwent a radical change in personality and management style in the ten months since the election. What’s changing, finally, is the media’s willingness to participate in the Bush myth-making machine.

Salon offers an enjoyable roundup of highlights from the television side of this change here, in a feature it calls “Reporters Gone Wild.”