The Bush that we were presented with, that crisp fall morning, in that classroom, reading "My Pet Goat", is very much the same President we have know, although plenty of stagecraft and window dressing has created the illusion of competence.
After those clueless moments, and some more careful staging, the hero returns.
The same political veterans who took the actor Ronald Reagan and made him a statesman took the rubble of the World Trade Center, handed him a bullhorn, found him a firefighter, and handed him a script. Our leader, the Commander-in-Chief, had arrived, measuring up to the challenge.
That very same President launched his war into Iraq, using faulty and tweaked intelligence, with the rickety Iraqi professional army quickly being overun and destroyed. After a timeframe of weeks, he flew in to the USS Abraham Lincoln in full flightsuit regalia, and proudly proclaimed "Mission Accomplished". Three years later, we know that not to be true, as the insurgency narrows in on 3,000 American military deaths.
Fast forward to last summer. The Bush to which we've become accustomed has returned.
But then, here's the problem. The natural state of W is the first picture – The deer in the headlights. That's not to say that he's stupid, but that he needs something to lean on – political lineage, Cheney, Poppy, terrorism, Saudi bailout money, what have you. There's no way he could have pulled off what he did if he wasn't smart, or at least shrewd, or at least smart enough to surround himself with smart (or devious) people.
But there's a problem. Having your entire presidency revolve around the Great War on Terror, means that some uncomfortable aspects, those that don't involve you playing fireman or jet pilot, have to come into focus. And that means the clueless Commander-in-Chief, or the out of touch Compassionate Conservative flying overhead while New Orleans drowns.