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Comparing Apples to Peanuts
June 30, 2001
by
Lois Erwin

In "Clintonesque Balancing of Issues, Polls" [Wash. Post, June 24], John Harris missed one important element when he compared the Clinton and Bush administrations and presidential styles.

There is, of course, a very serious difference between the Clinton and Bush presidencies - the intellectual grasp and profundity of the respective presidents. George W. Bush is best described as:

• mentally lazy

• narrow-minded

• incurious (as in: absence of intellectual interest or curiosity)

• lacking in intellectual grasp

• lacking in intellectual profundity

• having a parochial mind

• a tenacious bulldog when he sets his mind on something, irrespective of the merits of his thinking

• lacking any hint that he might consider the possibility that he could learn something from anyone other than his handpicked staff

• having a profound unawareness of what it is to live life without wealthy, powerful, politically well-connected parents to help bail him out of all life's difficulties.

None of those statements could be made about William Jefferson Clinton. Nevertheless, if it makes Bush 'crazy' to be told that his presidential style closely resembles Mr. Clinton's presidential style, Harris will have succeeded, in my book.

There is, however, no similarity at all in the style of the two men. Clinton was heavily, knowledgeably and intelligently involved in every aspect of his presidency. In the end, he made the decisions after all the staff opinions had been offered. Bush, on the other hand, would not have a clue what most of the issues are - at least not in any intellectual way - and relies on Karen Hughes, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney to guide him and tell him what he needs to know.

Or, what they think he wants to know, which is: "as little as he can get by with knowing, so he can get back to his naps and his workouts."

I would be shocked if Mr. Bush could ever give a long, off-the-cuff speech about any policy matter - or ANY matter other than sports - and do it without reference to cue cards. On the other hand, Mr. Clinton could give glorious, relevant, thoughtful and intelligent speeches to anyone, anywhere, on any topic.

No comparison is possible between the two men. It's apples and peanuts (not even apples and oranges!)


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