At the nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush is looking for answers. One at a time or in small groups, he summons leading authors, historians, philosophers and theologians to the White House to join him in the search.Honestly, this soul-searching isn't that impressive. In the piece, Bush's interlocutors find him variously exhausted-seeming or upbeat, curious or disengaged, broadly concerned or obsessed with Iraq (to the point of touching one wounded soldier's injured eye), interested in making things right before his presidency ends or just "counting on vindication after he is dead." It's a pretty pathetic picture, but think of that, folks - we have the dubious honor of living through the last days of the worst presidency ever!
Over sodas and sparkling water, he asks his questions: What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I'm facing? How will history judge what we've done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?
These are the questions of a president who has endured the most drastic political collapse in a generation. Not generally known for intellectual curiosity, Bush is seeking out those who are, engaging in a philosophical exploration of the currents of history that have swept up his administration. For all the setbacks, he remains unflinching, rarely expressing doubt in his direction, yet trying to understand how he got off course.