Andrew Sullivan, who lately has shown a near-moderate side to his usual self-loathing rants about liberalism and it's inferiority complex to his brand of coservatism, posted the following last week in Time Magazine:
In mid-January 2005, President Bush declared that the 2004 election had been his "accountability moment." He spoke a bit too soon. The "moment," it turned out, lasted for the following 12 months. The President didn't see it coming. And who could blame him? For more than three years after 9/11, the American public had given the Administration, and indeed many authority figures, the benefit of the doubt. We were at war, even in mortal danger. Trust was essential. The bigwigs kept assuring us they knew what they were doing. And so most of us went along.Which got me thinking: While Katrina clearly was his "jump the shark" moment, jumping the shark implies the end of a process: one where hubris and greed take over a process or organization (or man) and turn him down the dark path into buffoonery.
Katrina was the turning point, the moment when the extent of cronyism, incompetence and sheer smugness in Washington reached a level that even the White House couldn't ignore. FEMA's Michael Brown, the American people surmised with their wide-open eyes, was not doing a "heck of a job." And a President who could say such a thing obviously had no clue about what was going on in his own government.
For want of a better term, I'd call this moment the "jump the couch" moment. Yes, a slight alteration from the moment that describes a nervous breakdown, but hey, English is a living language, and the metaphor just fits.
For Bush, I think this moment can be found here:
And it's one of the wonderful -- it's like earning capital. You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is -- you've heard the agenda: Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror.Social Security reform? Dead.
Tax Reform? Dead.
Economy moving forward? On life support.
Fighting the war on terror? Oh, that's alive...if you assume that Iraq is the war on terror, but I'd count that as dead as well.
Winning the war on terror? Aborted.
The notes are in the air of the funereal dirge of this administration, and it shows in Bush's eyes and face: he's a man who's empty of ideas, of intellect, of energy. In other words, he has had a nervous breakdown.