I had a little exchange with a friend this morning about the relative arrogance of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The occasion was a Wall Street Journal “Notable and Quotable” that opined that Obama is more dangerous than Bush because, although he lacks the skills to handle things, he’s too full of self-confidence to know it. (The source quoted was Richard Epstein of University of Chicago Law School.)
It’s perhaps odd now to think of Dubya as humble. I’ll grant you that he could come across as cocky, and I’ve criticized him often, particularly for some delusional utopianism in his second inaugural.
But in 2000, I voted for him cheerfully, not grudgingly. He had promised, for one thing, a more humble foreign policy!
But one incident above others endeared him to me. In one of the Presidential debates, the big, pedantic, boorish lummox (have I missed any apt adjectives?) Al Gore calculatedly left his podium to try to crowd into Bush’s “personal space.” It was transparently planned, and clearly a breach of protocol, but if Bush had cowered, it might have been very effective political theater.
But Bush gave him a withering look, without even flinching, and when Gore skulked away, Dubya won that little dust-up. Gore started it; Bush finished it with one glare.
And that, so far and likely forever, is my fondest memory of Bush II.