White House Aides Worry
- Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides
Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
June 4, 2004
President George W. Bush's increasingly erratic
behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the
West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express
growing concern over their leader's state of mind.
In meetings with top aides and administration
officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible
in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media,
Democrats and others that he classifies as "enemies
of the state."
Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man
on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree
with him and paranoid of a public that no longer
trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.
"It reminds me of the Nixon days," says a longtime
GOP political consultant with contacts in the White
House. "Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to
get him. That's the mood over there."
In interviews with a number of White House staffers
who were willing to talk off the record, a picture of
an administration under siege has emerged, led by a
man who declares his decisions to be "God's will" and
then tells aides to "fuck over" anyone they consider
to be an opponent of the administration.
"We're at war, there's no doubt about it. What I
don't know anymore is just who the enemy might be,"
says one troubled White House aide. "We seem to spend
more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda
and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing."
Aides say the President gets "hung up on minor
details," micromanaging to the extreme while ignoring
the bigger picture. He will spend hours personally
reviewing and approving every attack ad against his
Democratic opponent and then kiss off a meeting on
"This is what is killing us on Iraq," one aide says.
"We lost focus. The President got hung up on the
weapons of mass destruction and an unproven link to
al Qaeda. We could have found other justifiable
reasons for the war but the President insisted the
focus stay on those two, tenuous items."
Aides who raise questions quickly find themselves
shut out of access to the President or other top
advisors. Among top officials, Bush's inner circle is
shrinking. Secretary of State Colin Powell has fallen
out of favor because of his growing doubts about the
administration's war against Iraq.
The President's abrupt dismissal of CIA Directory
George Tenet Wednesday night is, aides say, an
example of how he works.
"Tenet wanted to quit last year but the President got
his back up and wouldn't hear of it," says an aide.
"That would have been the opportune time to make a
change, not in the middle of an election campaign but
when the director challenged the President during the
meeting Wednesday, the President cut him off by
saying 'that's it George. I cannot abide disloyalty.
I want your resignation and I want it now."
Tenet was allowed to resign "voluntarily" and Bush
informed his shocked staff of the decision Thursday
morning. One aide says the President actually
described the decision as "God's will."
God may also be the reason Attorney General John
Ashcroft, the administration's lightning rod because
of his questionable actions that critics argue
threatens freedoms granted by the Constitution,
remains part of the power elite. West Wing staffers
call Bush and Ashcroft "the Blues Brothers" because
"they're on a mission from God."
"The Attorney General is tight with the President
because of religion," says one aide. "They both
believe any action is justifiable in the name of
But the President who says he rules at the behest of
God can also tongue-lash those he perceives as
disloyal, calling them "fucking assholes" in front of
other staff, berating one cabinet official in front
of others and labeling anyone who disagrees with him
"unpatriotic" or "anti-American."
"The mood here is that we're under siege, there's no
doubt about it," says one troubled aide who admits he
is looking for work elsewhere. "In this
administration, you don't have to wear a turban or
speak Farsi to be an enemy of the United States. All
you have to do is disagree with the President."
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