Our President this morning:
President George W. Bush denounced some critics of the Iraq war as irresponsible on Tuesday and called for an election-year debate that "brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries."
In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bush made clear he was girding for battle with Democrats in the run-up to the mid-term congressional election in November, when he will try to keep the U.S. Congress in the hands of his Republican Party.
What he has signaled, is his intention to continue to smear all critics and Democrats as potentially traitorous, weak on defense, and not supporting the troops. It's an election year, so we can expect him be more outrageous and offensive as the year progresses.
For the past few weeks, Bush's handlers have had him take part in a minor rebranding campaign. After Katrina, they saw his numbers falling and the bubble-boy narrative building, so they stood him up from time to time to announce his ultimate responsibility for the mistake of his administration (he still has trouble actually admitting that he makes mistakes). The correctly identified the public's perception of him as arrogant as his greatest weakness. They tried to make him look a little more humble and human.
Bush has clearly been uncomfortable in during this effort, but it looks like it's over. It has served it's purpose. His numbers have stopped falling. Now when people accuse him of arrogance or being out of touch, his people will be able to point back to the last few weeks as evidence of his humility and cooperation.
During his well-publicised conference the former Secretaries of State and Defense, he did little actual confering and spent most of the hour lecturing them on his plans. I've commented in the past on how his idea of "reaching out" is to tell people what he plans to do and invite them to support him. He does not listen and he does not compromise. The conference was a return to old tricks.
Now he's returning to the comfortable old pattern of smear and defame.