But Social Security, as well, is a big item. And I campaigned on it, as you're painfully aware, since you had to suffer through many of my speeches. I didn't duck the issue like others have done have in the past. I said this is a vital issue and we need to work together to solve it. Now, the temptation is going to be, by well-meaning people such as yourself, John, and others here, as we run up to the issue to get me to negotiate with myself in public; to say, you know, what's this mean, Mr. President, what's that mean. I'm not going to do that. I don't get to write the law. I will propose a solution at the appropriate time, but the law will be written in the halls of Congress. And I will negotiate with them, with the members of Congress, and they will want me to start playing my hand: Will you accept this? Will you not accept that? Why don't you do this hard thing? Why don't you do that? I fully recognize this is going to be a decision that requires difficult choices, John. Inherent in your question is, do I recognize that? You bet I do. Otherwise, it would have been.
Timothy Noah of Slate wrote yesterday of his theories of Bush's refusal to disclose how he is going to achieve Social Security reform.
When Bush says someone is trying to get him to "negotiate with myself in public," which he says a lot, it has always been my understanding that he means he doesn't have to consider an argument with which he doesn't agree. Now, though, I suspect that, at least in this case, he means something more. He's saying that he doesn't have to consider reality. It isn't his job to do "this hard thing." That's somebody else's job—in this instance, Congress: "I don't get to write the law."
What "I" get to do, as president, is make promises that I know perfectly well can never be kept, and then to make Congress break those promises for me. I don't have to change "the principles I believe in" because I know more responsible people in the government will violate them and take the blame.
Those "principles," then, are really nothing more than the narcissism of a spoiled child. Why a Congress controlled by Bush's own party is willing to put up with this infantile buck-passing is anybody's guess. But it's time for the rest of us to recognize that when Bush says he can privatize Social Security cost-free, he's just putting his vanity on display. He only believes it because he can rely on his political allies not to.
He is a petulant spoiled brat. I didn't take the time to count the amount of times he said the words I, me, or my during the press conference, but I wouldn't be surprised if one were to do so, one would discover everything is all about him.