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Is Bush really the man in charge?

He&

s the &

most powerful man in the world.&

The commander- in- chief of the world&

s greatest power. The POTUS. We see, read and hear of him everywhere. But still, the thought lurks as a constant companion at any sight of George Bush.

Who is this guy?

After five-plus years, we still don&

t know.

Is he the leader of this neo-con gang that, for better or for worse, radically altered the course of American history and its place in the world? Or is he a figurehead plucked by the same group to read the words and do the dance while the true leaders manipulate the levers of the world largely unnoticed?

The president left Washington Tuesday, holding his pooch and boarding Air Force One for a five-week vacation in Crawford, Texas. It is the longest presidential vacation in 36 years. Further, more than 20 percent of the total Bush presidency has been spent on vacation. Put in layman&

s terms, that&

s like having nearly 11 weeks of vacation each year. A trash collector couldn&

t do his job well with 11 weeks off a year, but apparently a president can. Or maybe just this president can.

Are we really supposed to believe that anyone this uninterested is the mastermind behind this conservative, militaristic revolution?

His supporters say he remains hard at work even while cutting brush on his ranch or hosting friends around the barbecue. His critics say it&

s all the more proof of how unprepared for leadership this president remains five years after assuming office.

Which is it? Who is he, really?

In a recent commentary, writer E.L. Doctorow says Bush lacks the mind to comprehend the result of his decisions.

&

He doesn&

t understand why he should mourn,&

Doctorow writes of the more than 1,000 dead soldiers in Iraq. &

He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of brave young Americans. ... But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it ...

&

To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing.&

Yet, Bush supporters speak of his abiding faith, his leadership and his moral fiber. His wife speaks of his deep, thoughtful conscience. A majority of voters find him trustworthy. They feel safe with him.

And still we ask, really? This Bush. We scratch our heads as he takes his vacation and recall the lighter days of the beginning of his presidency, when one of his first acts of office was to install a T-ball field on the White House lawn. We wonder if this was the only idea of his presidency that was genuinely his.

You hear this president speak and sense he&

s a man more comfortable playing childhood games than taking a nation to war. Yet, war has been a constant in his administration. So, too, have the destruction of civil liberties, the manipulation of tragedy to instill fear and dependence, the increasing intolerance of any opposition, the denigration of the constitution and the imperialistic grab for power.

Then you look again at this president and wonder, is he to blame? Who is this president? And even more disquieting comes a silent whisper of a thought asking, if he&

s not calling the shots, who is?