I have a disagreement going with one of my commenters, Curtis Faville, on the nature and involvement of Pres. Bush in the doings of his administration, and after our last exchange (in the comments under Don't Relax Yet) I think I'll pull the issue out of the comments and start a discussion on it.
My position has always been that Dubya is a front man, happy to have a position of apparent power ("I'm the decider") while not actually driving the major decisions, like the invasion of Iraq or the privatization of Social Security. His position in his administration is a rough parallel to the role Leland Stanford Sr. played in California's "Big Four" - he was the affable public spokesman, while Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker and Mark Hopkins actually ran the Central Pacific Railroad combine. Stanford wasn't even always aware of all the details of the inner workings.
Curtis' position is that Dubya is an intelligent, evil man who is fully engaged in what his administration has done.
It's certainly true that Dubya's business career, fully documented at
has been a success only in the sense that he personally profited immensely from every phase of it; any business enterprise he ever participated in was a disaster for the other shareholders. So this argument cuts in Curtis' direction.
I'll confess I've also read commentary that indicates that when Dubya has something he really wants, he can and does push back, even against Cheney (whom I personally regard as this administration's éminance grise). Another point for Curtis.
Here's the reason why I don't think he has been a central player, and wasn't originally intended to be a player at all. Look at the web site of the Project for the New American Century, especially at the Statement of Principles. Look at the list of people who signed that statement - in 1997, I might add, 3 years before the 2000 election. It was signed by every significant member of the first Bush administration, plus a number of the major neoconservative intelligentsia, except for - Dubya himself. It was, however, signed by Jeb Bush. I believe the PNAC planners originally intended to run Jeb for president, but switched to George when the skeletons in Jeb's closet became too obvious to survive the blinding light of a presidential campaign. Dubya's major personal skeleton was his former lifestyle, and since he had reformed that, it could be - and was - turned into a selling point.
I believe the neoconservative team that designed and built the 2000 election campaign, headed by Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, chose Dubya as an electable figurehead who would go along with their major policy objectives as long as they allowed him to appear to be in charge. Remember that Dick Cheney was the man in charge of the team who decided on the vice presidential candidate, and came up with - himself. I believe the administration's continued insistence on executive privilege and secrecy is a deliberate attempt to conceal who actually is in charge - if possible, permanently. And I believe Dubya went along with this plan, first because he does enjoy power (even if not absolute), and second because he saw the possibility of making a lot of money out of it.
And to quote a T-shirt I saw advertised on the Internet a couple of years ago, the thing I hate most about this administration is the way it makes me sound like a nutcase conspiracy theorist!