Of all the sad spectacles brought to us by Bush Presidency’s ongoing collapse, I think that perhaps the strangest and saddest of all must be the spectral form of Peggy Noonan huddled in the bleak chill of this strange new dawn, shivering like Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Match Girl as her thousand points of light go out one by one.

I found myself Thursday watching President Bush’s news conference and thinking about what it is about him, real or perceived, that makes people who used to smile at the mention of his name now grit their teeth.

Alas, Lady Peggy, mark me well! Pray, ask yourself how it would feel to grit your teeth for six years. Six very, very long (terribly long!) years. Where it’s always winter, and never Christmas.

I’m not referring to what used to be called Bush Derangement Syndrome. That phrase suggested that to passionately dislike the president was to be somewhat unhinged. No one thinks that anymore.

I’m going to assume that is as close as you will ever come to apologizing, Madam, therefore I accept. Cos it sure isn’t the President who’s changed. He is the same twitchy, smirking asshole he was on his first day at Yale.

In fact, do me a favor. Knowing what you know now, go back and watch a press conference from, say, 2004. Watch the smugness, the fatuous nonchalance, the dismissive half-shrugs. (“I’ve already stopped listening to your question, peasant!”)

Then factor in the mangled syntax, the misfired talking points, and the overall tone of pained condescension, “I’ll answer your question, but if you weren’t so stupid, you’d already know the answer.” Once the scales fall from your eyes, Peggy, every word he says makes you loathe him more.

Are you sure you want to go down this path, Ms. Noonan? Because once you attain this dark knowledge, gentle Lady, there is no turning back.

As I watched the news conference, it occurred to me that one of the things that might leave people feeling somewhat disoriented is the president’s seemingly effortless high spirits. He’s in a good mood. There was the usual teasing, the partly aggressive, partly joshing humor, the certitude.

In the Queen’s English, Peggy, we call that “being a dick”.

He doesn’t seem to be suffering, which is jarring. Presidents in great enterprises that are going badly suffer: Lincoln, LBJ with his head in his hands. Why doesn’t Mr. Bush? Every major domestic initiative of his second term has been ill thought through and ended in failure. His Iraq leadership has failed. His standing is lower than any previous president’s since polling began. He’s in a good mood. Discuss.

Mamaaaaa, he’s crazyyyy [/judds]

Seriously, Peg, the guy is a couple quarts low. He’s thrown a rod. Call him Ishmael. He has chained himself to the masts and commanded the oarsmen to ply ever onward, even as the ship of state begins to list to one side and ride lower and lower in the water.

Americans can’t fire the president right now, so they’re waiting it out.

Peggy, my darling, that is where you are wrong. There are clauses in the Constitution that were placed there for just such an occasion. Something about when a Chief Executive uses his powers of pardon to cover up his own crimes, wasn’t it?

George Mason (1725-1792), the father of the Bill of Rights (1791-2002), argued at the Constitutional Convention in favor of providing the House of Representatives the power of impeachment by pointing out that the President might use his pardoning power to “pardon crimes which were advised by himself” or, before indictment or conviction, “to stop inquiry and prevent detection.”

James Madison (1751-1836), the father of the U.S. Constitution (1788-2007), added that “if the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty.”

Seems pretty clear to me.

But chin up, dear lady. It may not work out for you guys in 2008, but I feel fairly certain that by 2012, you will have found yourselves a new empty suit with a heart made of tar. Some well-connected snake-oil salesman who can mouth the proper platitudes and maybe not get caught with a dead girl or a live boy in his bed.

Shouldn’t Damien be old enough to run for office by then?

Ohhhhh, wait a minute