After five years of terrorism and bloodshed, crisis has become a way of life for George W. Bush. Back home, he usually has the luxury of managing events in private, with his aides close at hand and world leaders a phone call away. This time it's just the opposite: Bush must respond to the violence in the full glare of a global summit, where the leaders like to take each other's measure in front of the cameras. Over the next several days, Bush huddles with presidents and prime ministers, showing how far he has traveled since 9/11—and also how little he has changed. Bush thinks the new war vindicates his early vision of the region's struggle: of good versus evil, civilization versus terrorism, freedom versus Islamic fascism. He still believes that when it comes to war and terror, leaders need to decide whose side they are on.Tell that to the family members of the civilians who are massacred in the process. A population that has seen absolutely zero compassion from the U.S. Government's Pulpit of War. They are relegated to collateral damage in a disgusting gamble of power.
Bush has a full day ahead with Putin, but first his aides have a long list of subjects to cover with him. In a prebriefing session they try to cram him with talking points on a vast array of issues. Bush, who hates to get bogged down in the weeds, has heard enough. "How long do you want this list to be?" he snaps. At least he doesn't need to make small talk; last night's dinner has dispensed with that. "It makes it easier to sit down and get right to the subject," Bush says. "You don't have to break ice and establish rapport."The article describes the many ways that George flubs a few media appearances "not hitting all the bases", it also mentions that the notecards he is given are usually ignored, with the dictator flipping them over and making his own notes. Perhaps a movie will be made in his honor someday: "A Dangerous Mind"
The other world leaders arrive that evening, and the official summit begins with a lavish feast. The dinner is something out of a Fellini epic, staged at the magnificent Peterhof Palace, built by Peter the Great. The scene is a uniquely Russian mix of historical grandeur, political power and touristy kitsch. The Russians offer a seven-course meal including caviar and beef stroganoff (maybe Chirac has a point), served by waiters wearing powdered wigs. Outside, a bear dressed in a green tutu with pink polka dots performs tricks. Inside, Chancellor Merkel starts to tell the story of a rare wild bear that was recently shot and killed in Germany. This prompts Japan's Junichiro Koizumi to reel off every bearlike word in his English vocabulary. "Teddy bear," he says for no apparent reason. "We must bear criticism. Unbearable." The leaders all start giggling.Yes, you read that correctly: "a bear dressed in a green tutu with pink polka dots performs tricks" - no wonder the world is screwed! The aristocrats are too busy engaging in frivolous fluff while the world explodes around them. This world is grossly lacking leadership, and they sure aren't going to get it from the nuclear superpower, the U.S., because George needs a shower.
That afternoon the leaders are promised they will see the final text of their statement on the Middle East, which calls on Hizbullah to end its rocket attacks and then urges Israel to end its military strikes. But the document fails to arrive at the promised hour of 4, and it's still not there at 5 o'clock. Bush has had it. "I'm going home," he says to the room full of presidents and prime ministers. "I'm going to get a shower. I'm just about meeting'd out." Some of the leaders suggest they should all work out their differences together. But Bush can no longer keep up appearances. "I thought that was a lousy idea and so did others," Bush says later. "It would lose focus and everybody would then have an opinion."God forbid everyone have an opportunity to further voice their opinions. That type of talk is reserved for a democratic world. As I wrote last week, What a Complete and Utter Embarrasment. I would also add Dangerous to the litany of adjectives. There are others, but I will keep this post as clean as possible under the dire circumstances we all find ourselves regardless of the borders that divide humanity.