Regarding your comment that “the anti-Bush sentiment is palpable in almost every news magazine story I read,” I beg to differ. Maureen Dowd and Molly Ivins aside, the press—our magazine included—has extended an awful lot of good will toward Bush.
Imagine, for example, any other viable presidential candidate—past or present—not knowing foreign leaders’ names. Bush’s response to concerns about his lack of foreign-policy expertise last fall was simple: He would surround himself with sage advisers. End of story. Can you imagine the media uproar if, say, Bob Dole had said the same thing? (And by the way, remember the foreign-policy record of the last true Texan to occupy the White House who relied heavily on his advisers?)
I’d like to see what would happen if the press got tough with Bush, and Bush in turn really hunkered with the books and studied the issues. He does poorly when he underestimates the competition, which is often. Remember the Bush-Mauro gubernatorial debate in El Paso? Mauro was a wreck—stuttering, sweating, and at one point just staring blankly into the screen—yet he still beat Bush, who looked bored stiff. At least Mauro was trying.
The press has been too easy on Bush, and that has been a disservice to him. The real test for him may come too late in the game.