Jon Chait's Los Angeles Times column, which is always worth reading, contains a particularly disturbing anecdote this week:
Bush is the president of the United States, which therefore gives him enormous power, but he is treated by everybody around him as if he were a child.
Consider a story in the latest Time magazine, recounting the efforts--before the commission was approved by Congress--of three supporters to enlist Condoleezza Rice to win the administration's approval for the panel. Here is how Time reports it:
As the trio departed, a Rice aide asked one of her suitors not to inform anyone at the Pentagon that chairmen had been chosen and the study group was moving forward. If Rumsfeld was alerted to the study group's potential impact, the aide said, he would quickly tell Cheney, who could, with a few words, scuttle the whole thing. Rice got through to Bush the next day, arguing that the thing was going to happen anyway, so he might as well get on board. To his credit, the President agreed.
The article treats this exchange in a matter-of-fact way, but, what it suggests is completely horrifying. Rice apparently believed that Bush would simply follow the advice of whoever he spoke with. Therefore the one factor determining whether Bush would support the commission was whether Cheney or Rice managed to get to him first.