It's based on something in the book Dead Certain, which I own but have yet to read. According to Hilzoy at Obisidian Wings, Sid Blumenthal's review in Salon takes note a very odd practice: Josh Bolton, White House Chief of Staff, greets President Bush with the phrase "Thank you for the privilege of serving today." Every. Morning.
I honestly have trouble believing this. It has to be another plastic turkey, doesn't it? I am willing to believe that this is a bizarre hoax, or that Draper just made it up. Or even that Blumenthal read it wrong -- maybe he said it once, and that got transmuted into saying it every day. I would suggest it was some kind of ironic inside joke, but somehow I get the feeling that Bush doesn't do irony.
Because the alternative is even worse. The alternative is believing that Bolton really does this every day, and that Bush lets him do it. Likes it, even.
Now if Josh Bolton were really poor, and he had to engage in this kind of obsequious display in order to feed his kids, I would understand. But I'm pretty sure he could find lucrative private sector employment. So, what kind of man is willing to do this sort of belly-crawling on a daily basis? Possibly even thinking it is appropriate to do so. Is that the kind of person we want as one of the President's principal advisors?
That's a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is "no."
Letting somebody do this us really bad management. One problem in Washington D.C. is that "you are wrong" is not a phrase that powerful people are accustomed to hearing. But, from time to time, it's a phrase they need to hear. One of the worst choices that any political leader can make it to hire flatterers and yes-men. Anybody who greets his boss like that deserves to have his face in the dictionary under the word brown-noser. If I were President (stop laughing) and my Chief of Staff said that to me, I'd bust out laughing and tell him to get a hold of himself. If he did it for three days in a row, I would tell him that the pressure of the job was just too much, and he ought to spend some more time with his family.
Worse: what kind of man accepts that sort of obsequious display on a daily basis? As Hilzoy says:
Stop and think for a moment: if your assistant greeted you every morning with the words "Thank you for the privilege of serving today", how would you respond? I think I'd make light of it the first day, but if it continued, I'd say: I appreciate the compliment, but it's really not necessary. If, God forbid, my assistant went on saying it, I would at some point have to sit him or her down and explain that it made me uncomfortable. The one thing I really can't imagine is letting someone go on saying that day after day. It's just too crazy.
The fact -- if it really is a fact -- that President Bush accepts this degrading ritual is most disturbing. What kind of man allows that? Even likes it? It sounds like something a meglomaniac would demand, or a Third World dictator. Not the President of the United States.
This is just psychotic.
UPDATE: Rising Hegemon says something I thought but didn't quite have the guts put into words: "You can literally see Bolten already in the next room masturbating." As one of his commenters says, "Eeeeeeewwwwww."