He stood there at the podium, the kind of podium he’d stood at 5,000 times in a long political life, and talked to the kind of audience he knew well: supporters and loyalists, old friends and new. He knew how to play them, how to use the old jokes and have fun. And suddenly he was sobbing.
He had referred to his son Jeb’s first campaign for governor. He had seen some “unfair stuff,” but Jeb “didn’t whine about it, he didn’t complain.” The old president began to weep. “The true measure of a man,” he then said, “is how you handle victory, and also defeat.” And here a sob tore out of him and he could not continue. ~Peggy Noonan
I’m not sure how this sort of thing becomes news, much less fodder for opinion columns (and, now, blog posts!), but talking about this sort of thing really must stop. Yes, it’s odd that the man started crying in public and it might have had something to do with the state of his relationship with his elder son and that son’s manifest inability to handle defeat well. But let me state this plainly: I don’t care. I don’t care whether the autocrat gets on well with his father, or whether his father is upset by the way the autocrat has failed his country. What does concern me is the continued misrule of the autocrat and his refusal to do anything to bring his war to an end. What concerns me is a nation so preoccupied with the personalities of its rulers and their families that we indulge in this sort of psychoanalysis of the Bushes rather than engaging in the tasks of a self-governing, republican people. What concerns me is that not a month goes by without some story of palace intrigue and dynastic quarreling, as if we lived under the rule of the Sultan and we were waiting to see what the grand vizier Baker and the eunuch Karl Rove would do next. People now study the interactions and relationships of the Bush clan with the seriousness of old Kremlin watchers or tabloid reporters who cover the Royal Family. If George Will would like us to live in a republic, as he has claimed, perhaps he could be the first to argue for an end to all of this excessive chatter about the strained relations of the imperial household. I won’t be holding my breath, for he was surely born to be a courtier and hanger-on of Caesars if ever there was one.