I maintain now what I always have: First, that George W. Bush is a decent, honorable human being. Second, that he has been catastrophically undermined and misled by various advisers and staff, to say nothing of Dick Cheney. Their collective attitude has been "the public be damned." Well, now the public "damns" the president in return. According to one national survey this week, Bush has a 26 percent approval rating.
The president's handlers have fatally insulated him. He rarely visits with Republican senators; the immigration negotiations were an exception.
This arrogance and indifference hasn't gone unnoticed by GOP leaders. Nor have the few-and-far-between state dinners during the Bush years.
The message to friend and foe has been much the same: The door to the White House is always -- closed.
Well, the Bush toadies got their wish -- a president out of touch with political reality.
Only the latest example is the Scooter Libby case. By manipulating Libby into playing political games he never should have been part of, White House strategists managed to end up making Bush look like a cigar-chomping political boss who'd rather make a shady deal than not. The net effect is that Bush's bottom-dragging approval ratings have now sunk into the mud.
It's never been lonelier at the top than right now for Bush and his team. But if they don't reverse courses on several fronts -- and the record suggests they won't -- they might just scuttle the whole Republican Party.
George Bush has a chronic disease called Accidental Arrogance. Those who led him there aren't the pathologists -- they're the pathogens.