There are two distinct aspects of President George W. Bush’s persona. Measured against his immediate predecessor, who obsessively managed his daily standing in popularity polls, President Bush appears indifferent, isolated, surrounded by cronies, and even hapless, mired now in the low thirties in the polls. But when elections loom, when voters pay closer attention, and when popularity really matters, he becomes a shrewd poker player, who has lured his enemies into betting on weak hands.
I have nicknamed the second persona “The Crawford Kid.” It is an identity the President probably would never embrace, because keeping it secret keeps his opponents unwary. But they will never learn. Contempt for the President and their own ego-maintenance demands will not let them recognize reality when they are outsmarted.
The Crawford Kid doesn’t swagger, pal around with floozies, or behave like most of the screen versions of a successful itinerant poker player. The Crawford Kid learned long ago that his enemies’ greatest weakness is their inflated self-regard, lethally combined with withering contempt for him and his embrace of evangelical Christianity and Texas.
I have always seen George W. Bush in a different light than almost all of his opponents, and even many of his supporters. He is a trained strategist, an MBA graduate of Harvard Business School, where he learned that the point of having a strategy is to win when it counts, not just to feel good about yourself at every moment of the process.
The Democrats, the leakers, the drive-by media, and other enemies of George Bush have been congratulating themselves over the prospect of victory in November. Maybe just a bit too soon. For they have overplayed the hands dealt them, and bet on Bush spiraling downward.
The Crawford Kid is getting set to walk through the door, sit at the table, maybe look worried as he glances at his cards. Then he will see their bet and raise the stakes.
Good. Of course he did this in 2004. And didn't do much with the victory. This needs to be about a lot more than the 2006 elections. He needs to be kickin' socialist ass and taking names for the next three years and "tagging in" the next Republican President to continue the cage match.