As I read this article and then thought back to my own analysis of the climate talks Bush held this week, I began to wonder if there wasn't a metaphor playing out here that stretches well-beyond the global warming crisis:
"It is striking that the (Bush) administration at the moment in the international conversation seems to be pretty isolated," said John Ashton, Britain's climate envoy. "I think that the argument that we can do this through voluntary approaches is now pretty much discredited internationally."The theme of isolation is a curtain draped across the backdrop of history during the Bush years, and speaks to an issue that should trouble even the most strident, ardent defenders of this administration: what is Bush so terrified of?
Bush's rejection of mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that warm the planet is at odds with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and with many who attended on Friday.
"Our message to the U.S. is this: what they placed on the table at this meeting is a first step, but is simply not enough," South African Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said in a statement. "We think that the U.S. needs to go back to the drawing board."
On a strictly psychological basis, Bush is the most powerful man in the world. A healthy, well-balanced person would exude confidence, and would be able to view world events through that lens: things happen, but at the end of the day, the US is all-powerful, and I lead this country.
Instead, the recurring trope for Bush has been an ill-at-ease demeanor, and a reflexive "I'll show YOU who's boss" attitude that says something to me that this is a man who doesn't want to be "found out".
I once played Risk with a couple of friends, one of whom gradually began to take a large lead over us (I had never played the game before, and didn't understand the strategy, so I just played for the lark). As he neared total domination, a curious thing began to happen with him.
He began to shiver. Nearly uncontrollably. Finally, it became clear (I had been eliminated and the other opponent held Burkina Faso or some such territory) that he would win, he relaxed.
I think about that game now nearly everytime I see Bush give a speech or take questions from the press. Here is a man clearly uncomfortable with his success, as if any minute now, someone would come along and take it away from him. Just as my friend had all but expected to lose a game he had won within fifteen minutes of playing, so too has Bush panicked from day one in the White House.
In the past, I've accused Bush of being a wimp, a charge I think still stands on its own merits.
Now I think that has a new layer added to it: the man can't help himself. He's had so much failure and gotten out of so many scrapes with the help of his family name and connections, that now that he's stuck in a terrible and terrifying situation, there's no one who can extend a hand and lift him out of the morass.
The only person more powerful than himself is...no one. And any group of people who might rally around him, say, like the leaders of the EU, have been so alienated and would face such domestic strife from within their own countries, that Bush is radioactive to them: get away and stay away.
So here we have a situation fairly dripping with irony and long term peril, being handled by someone who's afraid of his own shadow right now: he stands off in one corner, screeching from his soapbox about "voluntary" emissions caps and free market solutions, and the rest of the civilized world, the adults, stand off in the middle of the room discussing how to save the planet.
You'd think Bush would welcome impeachment at this point!
Hm. Maybe Pelosi taking it off the table isn't such a dumb idea after all. Force Bush to deal with his own mess, or quit.