* Other presidents might leave the tough stuff to subordinates, but Bush wanted to do the job himself.
* Bush’s leadership style belies his caricature as a disengaged president who is blindly loyal, dislikes dissent and covets his own downtime. In fact, Bush’s aides and friends describe the mirror image of a restless man who masters details and reads avidly, who chews over his mistakes and the failings of those around him, and who has grown evermore comfortable pulling the levers of power.
* Bush has always thought big, and always believed you earn political capital by expending it.
* In laying out his second-term agenda, Bush is building on the big ideas he launched in Austin.
* “When he wants to be, he’s a real stickler for details,” says one Republican senator. “When he calls you to talk about a bill, he knows the nitty-gritty. You don’t get the sense he’s been reading the Cliffs Notes guide to an issue.”
* Another popular misperception: that Bush doesn’t read. Aides describe numerous debates inside the Oval Office, where the president digs deep into his briefing books. “I’ve seen it time and time again,” says Rove. “We all get the briefing papers the night before, we’ve all read them, and he’ll inevitably have thought about three steps ahead of anyone in the room.”
* Judging from the press coverage of his new cabinet, you’d think Bush’s guiding principle was to put yes men in positions of power. But Bush draws a sharp line between people who can get things done, and those who simply agree with anything he says. His style in policy briefings is to narrow the debate with a series of questions, crystallizing the competing opinions and exploring the disagreements between his staff.
* To hear his friends tell it, Bush hates toadies, and loves to mock sycophantic remarks . . .”If anyone is too much of a suck-up, the president is the first one to call them on it,” says Card.
* It would be a mistake, however, to assume that Bush doesn’t worry about the consequences of his decisions, especially in Iraq. Behind the scenes he was intimately involved in the details of the Fallujah offensive last year, keeping close tabs on strategic decisions and getting regular updates on the troops’ progress. “He thinks long and hard about it, particularly where American lives are at risk,” says one confidant, “including the postwar plan, the role of the former Baathists and the number of troops.”
There is, literally, a complete absence of a single negative or even balancing comment. It is three Newsweek pages pulsating with pure, tongue-wagging, unadulterated praise, all based on Bush-loyal sources. But the only ones who could possibly find that objectionable are the partisan, idiotic bloggers who do not understand the lofty function of journalism [although an intern at Salon, several months after publication of the Wolffe homage, documented that actual reporters had discovered just how false were the glorifying depictions of Bush fed to (and then obligingly spewed out by) Wolffe].
It is also worth noting in passing the depravity of Tony Snow’s complaints (endorsed by the agreeable panel) about the “hateful stuff” that allegedly spews forth from blogs. Contrast Snow’s complaint with that Beacon of Civility whom Snow and other administration officials have chosen as their personal interviewer. But it would be entirely unreasonable to expect any of the Senior White House Correspondents on the friendly panel to have mentioned that because their role is simply to ask questions, not to be “political” or to “grill” the administration.