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Politics

Chaffee on Bush

Lincoln Chaffee, former Republican Senator from Rhode Island, published the most damning piece I have read about his experiences with George W. Bush:

The man—and by that I mean the inner man, the essential man—seemed unequal to the awesome powers entrusted to him. I was worried about the damage he might do over the next few years, never mind in a second term, which seemed unthinkable at the time.

…something very disturbing came through for me in his demeanor and attitude in the Oval Office. I want to describe it as insecurity, but even that is not the right word.

Several times, the president went out of his way to remind me that he was the commander in chief. You don’t have to keep telling me that, I thought. I know who you are. Like others, I have been around people who are good at wielding power. They never have to tell you they are in charge. They just are, and you know it. What I saw and heard that day really unsettled me. I’m the commander in chief… I’m the president… I’m the commander in chief… It was unpresidential.

That September, as I watched the Twin Towers collapse in smoke and dust, I had a sinking feeling about the president’s capacity to respond wisely.

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