This is a passage from Tuesday's Washington Times, which is itself an excerpt from Bill Sammon's new insider account of the Bush presidency, Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, John Kerry and the Bush Haters. (emphasis added)
"I get the newspapers â the New York Times, The Washington Times, The Washington Post and USA Today â those are the four papers delivered," he said. "I can scan a front page, and if there is a particular story of interest, I'll skim it."
The president prides himself on his ability to detect bias in ostensibly objective news stories.
"My antennae are finely attuned," he said. "I can figure out what so-called 'news' pieces are going to be full of opinion, as opposed to news. So I'm keenly aware of what's in the papers, kind of the issue du jour. But I'm also aware of the facts."
Those facts are extracted from news stories each day and presented to the president by a half-dozen aides, Mr. Card among them.
"Since I'm the first one to see him in the morning, I usually give him a quick overview and get a little reaction from him," Mr. Card explained. "Frequently, I find that his reaction kind of reflects [first lady] Laura Bush's take."
Indeed, the president often cites articles that Mrs. Bush flags for greater scrutiny, even when he has not personally slogged through those stories. Mrs. Bush routinely delves more deeply into the news pages than her husband, who prefers other sections.
"He does not dwell on the newspaper, but he reads the sports page every day," Mr. Card said with a chuckle.
'A clear outlook'
Mr. Bush thinks that immersing himself in voluminous, mostly liberal-leaning news coverage might cloud his thinking and even hinder his efforts to remain an optimistic leader.
"I like to have a clear outlook," he said. "It can be a frustrating experience to pay attention to somebody's false opinion or somebody's characterization, which simply isn't true."
What strikes me about this isn't the stuff <$Ad$>about the First Lady or the skimming of articles. It's that, at least from his self-presentation, the president seems to see his news reading largely, if not entirely, as an exercise in detecting liberal media bias. That, and he seems to see shielding himself from opposing viewpoints as a key to maintaining what he calls a "clear outlook" and what Sammon refers to as being an "optimistic leader".
I guess we can all relate to this, can't we?
How 'frustrating' it is to have to listen to "somebody's false opinion or somebody's characterization, which simply isn't true" (i.e., information that contradicts our assumptions and viewpoints)?
It (i.e., critical thinking) really gets in the way of having a "clear outlook", right?
Now, certainly no one is perfect when it comes to subjecting and then resubjecting their viewpoints to fresh facts or challenging their assumptions with intelligently stated contrary views. I can't claim to be. But it's one thing to fall short of the mark and another to work out a system of self-rationalization and denial to ensure you come nowhere near the mark. And this is it in spades.
He doesn't even need the yes-men who "extract" the "facts" from the news articles. He's his own built-in yes-man.
How could we have ignored so many warnings, so much expert advice, so many facts staring us in the face? The president just gave you the answer.