US News and World Report last week confirmed my suspicions:
President George W. Bush says he isn't interested in spin or stagecraft. But that doesn't mean he won't try to outfox the White House press corps as often as he can--as he did at last week's press conference in the Rose Garden, his first solo run in nearly five months. Bush and senior aides, including new press secretary Scott McClellan, had been planning the encounter for weeks, and Bush had gone over possible questions the day before in the Oval Office. (His staff predicted nearly every one.) To leave nothing to chance, the team decided in advance which journalists Bush would call upon and created a crib sheet of their names. And White House officials gave reporters only 90 minutes' notice--a ploy to prevent them from preparing their questions too carefully and generally to keep them off balance. Bush seemed to enjoy the give-and-take, aides say, but America shouldn't expect a repeat performance anytime soon, and certainly not in prime time. Bush thinks those events tend to become media spectaculars in which reporters preen for the television audience and try to play "gotcha" with him.
The guy is just plain scared of his ability to think on his feet. And Karl Rove - the man who is desperately trying to make him look good through the looting of this country's resources and psyche - is afraid too. The wheels are falling off, folks. The emperor has no soul, never mind clothes.