Is anybody else out there getting the feeling that our president is in so far over his head on Iraq that he's getting the bends?
The latest evidence? His speech to the United Nations last week, which had none of the entertainment of the California governor's debate and was about as successful as Gary Coleman's campaign.
There was George Bush, assembled before heads of state and foreign ministers, telling them they must shoulder the burden but not the power of the post-Saddam occupation.
By the time he was done, he was about as welcome as Lars Larson at a Vera Katz potluck.
Some will blame those wimps in Paris for Bush's inability to convert world opinion on the matter of Iraq, but they'd be wrong. The fault lies with the man from Texas.
Think about it. Bush rid the Middle East of a truly demonic soul. He liberated women and children. He is seeking to rebuild a nation's entire infrastructure and transform an indisputable hellhole into a democratic country. Yet his poll numbers overseas suggest that in a popularity contest, he'd have difficulty beating Oday and Qusay.
The Nose doesn't buy the argument that Bush's problem is the failure to find the seemingly nonexistent WMDs. Remember that last year much of the civilized world, including the United Nations, believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was ready to use them. Were Bill Clinton president, the inability to find the damn things would have been little more than a bump in the road, not the crisis of credibility that Bush now suffers.
So what's our president's problem? Why can't he get no respect overseas?
The Nose may be out on a limb here, but he'd like to suggest that for many citizens of the world, and for an increasing number of Americans, Bush's act has simply gotten tired. A guy who was known for his amiability and the warmth of a cocker spaniel has become the embodiment of the Ugly American--arrogant, cocksure, way too independent. It also doesn't help inspire confidence when he gives a speech and flashes that Bushian smirk of his--you know, the one that makes him look like Curly of the Three Stooges?
Nothing may be more revealing about Bush, or more telling of the problems he faces now, than his May 1 appearance on the USS Lincoln, when, dressed in a flight suit with his scrotum lashed like a papoose, he announced, "The tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free."
While he clearly spoke of victory too soon, Bush's real boner was his tone, one that made clear he had never heard of Teddy Roosevelt or his reminder to walk softly.
Five months later, it's a shtick that's wearing thin. And what's worrisome is that our president seems oblivious to what's at stake.