White House Year in Review: Bush Loses His Parade

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, December 20, 2006; 10:22 AM

The year 2006 started with President Bush firmly in denial about how terribly wrong his war in Iraq has gone. It ends that way, too.

But in between, something changed: Bush lost his parade.

Somehow, Bush had managed up until this year to lull voters -- and seduce journalists -- into complicity with a worldview that was simply not based in reality.

There's been plenty of evidence for years now that Bush was living in a self-imposed bubble of non-reality, particularly when it came to the situation in Iraq.

But it wasn't until Bob Woodward's book "State of Denial," came out in September that it was definitively established, to the full satisfaction of Washington's cocktail-party circles, that the president is not to be taken seriously on Iraq.

It wasn't until November, when the voters resoundingly threw Bush's congressional enablers from power, that it became undeniably clear that Americans reject Bush's leadership.

And Bush's response to this month's report from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group is making it manifestly obvious that, for all the White House's attempts to give the impression that Bush listens to people who disagree with him, he does not.

He appears to still listen pretty much only to two people -- Vice President Cheney and political guru Karl Rove -- even though both were proven catastrophically wrong in 2006.

The Iraq debacle, after all, is Cheney's doing almost more than it is Bush's. It was Cheney who whispered into Bush's ear that it would all work out just fine. Apparently, that continues.

And it is Rove who is responsible for Bush's aversion to finding common ground with his political enemies. That also appears to continue, even though this year's election proved quite conclusively that the politics of division have a limit.

These days, when Bush turns around to see who's marching behind him, he sees Cheney and Rove -- and increasingly few others.

A Look Back at 2006

Here's a look back at the year that was, through a sampling of White House Briefing columns:

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