Smaller Than Life

"We like our failed presidents to be Shakespearean, or at least large enough to inspire Oscar-worthy performances from magnificent tragedians like Frank Langella ["Nixon and Frost"].

"So here, too, George W. Bush has let us down.

"Even the banality of evil is too grandiose a concept for 43. He is not a memorable villain so much as a sometimes affable second banana whom Josh Brolin and Will Ferrell can nail without breaking a sweat.

"He’s the reckless Yalie Tom Buchanan, not Gatsby.

"He is smaller than life."
--Frank Rich

Team Of Vipers: Bob Woodward On W

Some pretty interesting stuff in the Washington Post, from our best political journalist.

Here's a sample:

"Presidents set the tone. Don't be passive or tolerate virulent divisions."

"In the fall of 2002, Bush personally witnessed a startling face-off between National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the White House Situation Room after Rumsfeld had briefed the National Security Council on the Iraq war plan.

"Rice wanted to hold onto a copy of the Pentagon briefing slides, code-named Polo Step.

"You won't be needing that," Rumsfeld said, reaching across the table and snatching the Top Secret packet away from Rice -- in front of the president.

"I'll let you two work it out," Bush said, then turned and walked out. Rice had to send an aide to the Pentagon to get a bootlegged copy from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Bush should never have put up with Rumsfeld's power play. Instead of a team of rivals, Bush wound up with a team of back-stabbers with long-running, poisonous disagreements about foreign policy fundamentals."