Judging from the blistering analyses in Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere these past few days, it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don’t emerge from his gut. He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read.

Maybe it’s Bush’s sinking poll numbers — he is, after all, undeniably an unpopular president now. Maybe it’s the way that the federal response to the flood has cut so deeply against Bush’s most compelling claim to greatness: His resoluteness when it comes to protecting Americans. ~Dan Froomkin, The Washington Post

For the last four years, the press regularly treats us to the idea that Mr. Bush is admired and respected for his resolve and, as we hearing lately, his determination and ability to “protect” Americans. I must confess that I don’t understand where anyone has gotten the idea that he is particularly concerned about such protection. He certainly uses that sort of rhetoric–invading Iraq was, after all, self-defense, don’t you know–but none of his actions has impressed me with any sense that he is very concerned to protect us. Neither am I convinced that he is capable of doing so. But apparently some people are only becoming aware of this now after Hurricane Katrina, and what is more they seem shocked or upset that this is the case. This is one more sign of the sycophantic attitude to which I was referring in an earlier post, as this is an attitude that breeds a mentality of dependency and servility in the expectation of protection and provision. But, of course, Mr. Bush cannot protect us.

Generally speaking, it is not his job to protect us, which is good for him considering his less-than-stellar track record. He has certain responsibilities and duties for maintaining the common defense, more than a few of which he is shirking or ignoring in surrendering our borders to virtually all comers, but as the president he is not especially obligated to protect Americans. Insofar as policies for the common defense do protect us, it is the men actually doing the guard, intelligence and field work who provide some protection. The president’s decisions can either facilitate or retard that effort, and I think we have a good idea what effect Mr. Bush’s decisions have had for the defense of the nation itself. But in the final analysis a free people should be able to protect and provide for themselves, or they quickly lose the quality of being free.

As for Mr. Bush’s staff, it is little wonder that he cultivates sycophancy around him when he seems to rely on it for his political support and success. But Mr. Bush should be worried–now it seems that even the eunuchs of his bedchamber, so to speak, are beginning to get restless.