A Man Stands Up

So here’s the real thing:

I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny.

This is what’s puzzled me, not so much about Bush as about his supporters, from the day of his election: The extreme defensiveness, the contention that the presidency, nay, the nation itself embodied by the office of the presidency, could be laid low simply by asking pointed questions.

And maybe it made sense back in the pre-9/11 days of his presidency, when people seemed inclined to think he was a young, dim goofball who got in by virtue of powerful people thinking they could use him for their own purposes, and then only just. It was understandable, then, the defensiveness, the need to justify his existence at all times.

But after he’d been given the benefit of the doubt by something like 90 percent of the nation, after months of approval ratings that defied all sense, stories about his “likeability” and idiotic “who you want to have a beer with” stories, after he and his party received kid-glove treatment of the kind for which previous presidents, both Democratic and Republican, could only dream, why then the overprotectiveness?

It truly does say something about the strength of one’s beliefs and allegiances, that the mere act of challenging them is viewed as sufficient to destroy them entirely.

In other words, Bush defenders, if your man truly was the invincible steely-eyed warrior you say he is, no amount of my saying he looks and acts like a chimp would bother him or you in the slightest.

A.