This from the Washington Post:
A President Besieged and Isolated, Yet at Ease -- By Peter Baker, Washington Post Staff Writer
At the nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush is looking for answers. One at a time or in small groups, he summons leading authors, historians, philosophers and theologians to the White House to join him in the search.
[H]e asks his questions: What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I'm facing? How will history judge what we've done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?
These are the questions of a president who has endured the most drastic political collapse in a generation. Not generally known for intellectual curiosity, Bush is seeking out those who are, engaging in a philosophical exploration of the currents of history. . . . For all the setbacks, he remains unflinching, rarely expressing doubt in his direction, yet trying to understand how he got off course.
Irwin Stelzer [a Hudson Institute scholar] said Bush seemed smarter than he expected. The conversation ranged from history to religion and touched on sensitive topics for a president wrestling with his legacy. "He asked me, 'Do you think our unpopularity abroad is a result of my personality?' And he laughed," Stelzer recalled. "I said, 'In part.' And he laughed again."
Much of the discussion focused on the nature of good and evil, a perennial theme for Bush, who casts the struggle against Islamic extremists in black-and-white terms.
[S]aid Michael Novak, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, "[I]f you've got that set, all the criticism, it doesn't faze you very much. You're answering to God."
Hearing that a Congressman's wife wonders why he doesn't give up, Bush phoned her. 'but got voice mail. Bush left a message: "I'm doing okay. Don't worry about me."'
For the first time in his presidency, according to all I've read, Bush is speaking to people who don't necessarily agree with his ideas. He's asking for opinions other than his own.
Too late, of course.
Meanwhile, Baker sounded sympathetic to the plight of the President. He seemed to be asking almost plaintively, as Bush also seems to be, 'Where did it all go wrong?'
Which leads me to the question of both Baker and Bush: Where have you been for the last 6 1/2 years? Have you been paying attention?
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