A leader’s first job is to project authority, and George Bush certainly does that. In a 90-minute interview with a few columnists in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Bush swallowed up the room, crouching forward to energetically make a point or spreading his arms wide to illustrate the scope of his ideas — always projecting confidence and intensity.Spoken like a true columnist, for whom the world of working, let alone leading, remains charmingly distant, like manner life, feudalism, reality . . .
I grazed a hard copy of the Times at La Prima Espresso (quite possibly the finest espresso bar in the United States) this morning, and Tom Tomorrow was good enough to provide the really good parts for we non-Times-Select-selected consumers of the only thing still made in America: the news. Anyway.
"A leader's first job is to project authority." This from a man who's never worked a job, whose principle experience with business America is the self-infatuated rhetoric of post-actualized executive confabs in which figurehead CEOs mouth PR-drone-written speeches full of blowsy bits of managerial nonsense, from which Brooks, middlebrow America's very own PR manager, will extract geopolitical lessons with an alacrity second only to Tom Friedman, using these in turn to craft one more inverse-Positivist panegyric to things-as-they-are-and-shall-ever-be, Revolution in Permanence, Sharper Image, ad inf. Things do work differently in politics, I know, but out here in working America, a leader who takes as his main duty the projection of authority is a leader referred to almost universally as "that jackass," as in the following dialogic example:
WORKER 1:Hey, I heard you got called into [President/CEO McSuch-and-Such]'s office. How'd that go? (rolls eyes sarcastically)Brooks goes on to observe that Bush "possesses an unusual concept of time." Unless Bush is an aborigine on a vision trip into the fucking Dream World, I don't want to hear that he has an unusual concept of time. Now, I criticize Americans for their shortsightedness and failure to think in the long term, but such a critique is predicated on the idea that it is the failure to think out the consequences of contemporary practices that consitutes a lack of vision. But people who claim to be lost in long-term, grand-sweep, broad-stroke, supra-historical thought are people who seek to conceal their extraordinary capacity for fucking everything up behind a wall of pseudo-prophetic bullshit, who wish for you to believe that today's failed negotiations, tomorrow's unsigned leases, next week's IRS lien--these things are all but petty obstacles to the crowning, if forever unfulfilled, glory of their strategc vision.
WORKER 2: Oh yeah. That jackass spent like fifteen minutes telling me about his trip to fucking Sonoma, then took a call from his wife, and then that jackass made me go over these [reports/settlements/proposals/P&Ls] like four times, after which that jackass still didn't get it.
WORKER 1: God, that guy is such a jackass.
WORKER 2: I had to prep him for the last fucking board meeting, and even then, all that jackass could get up and say was some bullshit about "identifying new initiatives" and "redefining our core principles in order to manage transitions and identify new markets."
WORKER 1: Yeah. What a fucking jackass.
WORKER 2: Plus, whenever he talks, he gets into this crouch, like he's going to jump on you, and whenever he thinks he's talking about some big idea, he waves his arms around as if the idea is as big as his armspan.
WORKER 1: A jackass. World fucking class. I told you that when you came on here. Didn't I tell you?
“Ideological struggles take time,” he said, explaining the turmoil in Iraq and elsewhere. He said the events of weeks or months were just a nanosecond compared with the long course of this conflict. He was passionate on the need for patience and steadfastness. He talked about “inviolate” principles written upon his heart: “People want you to change. It’s tactics that shift, but the strategic vision has not, and will not, shift.”He really is the CEO president, isn't he?
But let us return momentarily to an earlier paragraph:
“I got into politics initially because I wanted to help change a culture,” he says, referring to his campaign against the instant gratifications of the 1960’s counterculture. And he sees his efforts today as a series of long, gradual cultural transformations. Like many executives, he believes that the higher you go, the further into the future you should see[.]It occurs to me that if his father had never been saddled with the lack of "that vision thing" . . . well, there it is. Here's the thing, though:
When George W. Bush got into politics, it was because even his family and friends, some of the richest, most powerful people in the world, could no longer continue to foot the bill for this boozy, possibly born-again screw-up without even the wits to get a good CFO who'd actually run shit for him. It was no longer in the folks' interest to keep a healthy, irrelevant sinecure open for the dumb son of this American dynasty, who believed, like David Brooks, that the job of a leader is to lead, and that one who leads is a leader, and other such tautological merde of the upper-management caste in this country. To speak as if Bush, the alcoholic, coke-addled, half-wit of his four-decade formative years entered politics, of all places, in order to "change the culture," a program that in Brooks' paraphrastic telling has an almost Lutherian reformative scope--"his campaign against the instant gratifications of the 1960’s counterculture"? fer re-al?--is to engage in the most preposterously transparent myth-building since . . . ever. He was the sixties counterculture, albeit without the balls to piss off Bar and Poppy by comingling with negroes or protesting the war in which he did not fight. The hard-partying man who came to god is a trope long past its sell-by date. It barely worked for fucking Augustine, and, though I'm sure Brooks would flatter and belabor that comparison, it sure has hell isn't going to work for George W. Bush.
BUSH: Well Stretch, my answer to that question is: Give me chastity and continence . . . e-heh-heh-heh . . . but not yet. Eh-heh-heh-heh.