Dan Froomkin asks some good questions today:
What does it say about the president of the United States that he won’t go anywhere near ordinary citizens any more? And that he’ll only speak to captive audiences?
President Bush’s safety zone these days doesn’t appear to extend very far beyond military bases, other federal installations and Republican fundraisers.
…I’ve written a lot about Bush’s bubble before. In particular, I’ve wondered if Bush suffers from being so sheltered from dissent, and I’ve raised the question of whether taxpayers should be funding presidential events to which the public is never welcome.
Why is this happening? Is it related to the widespread public dissatisfaction with his policies, particularly in Iraq? Is Bush reluctant to appear before an audience that might not clap at his applause lines? Is he afraid of dissent? Are his aides shielding him against his will? Is it just a matter of stagecraft, to avoid any incident that might lure the media off message?
We don’t know, of course, because no one has actually asked the White House to explain.
I don’t know the answers to Froomkin’s questions more than anyone else outside Bush’s inner circle. But I do know this: whether it’s his choice or his advisors’ choice, Bush’s apparent fear of meeting people who disagree with him suggests insecurity, weakness, and intellectual mediocrity.