Utterly lacking in gravitas, how could he lead the most powerful nation in the world? Not to worry. The consensus seemed to be that he had a competent, experienced team of grownups who could take care of things -- Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, etc.
But I used to wonder, what if the grownups disagree? In the aftermath of 9/11, much of the nation seemed to project onto the Kid a completely unearned aura of leadership. It was like a gravitas transplant. But my question never went away. What happens if the advisors disagree? What inner resources would the Kid draw on to lead the nation if all his people were pulling in different directions?
With Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" I finally got my answer.
There were "surreal" meetings where Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State Colin Powell refused to look at each other while making their presentations to a fidgety President, Woodward writes.How would the Kid lead a divided administration while thousands died? Now we know. George Bush wouldn't lead. He would abdicate.
Powell and Rumsfeld were like "bulls" who "staked out their ground, almost snorting defiantly, hoofs pawing the table, daring a challenge that never came," Woodward wrote. "And the President, whose legs often jiggled under the table, did not force a discussion."