Reading through Bob Woodward's The War Within, one thing that jumps out is the devastating portrait of National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who's often considered something of a dud and enabler in his position, on the model of first-term (2001-2005) Condoleezza Rice. Here he is on pages 8 and 27-28:
Hadley believed he had developed as close a relationship with his president as any national security advisor in history. He was ever present. ... Hadley said of their relationship, "If I feel it, he feels it. If he feels it, I feel it."
I later read Hadley's statement to the president during an interview in the Oval Office. "Yes," Bush agreed. "I'm watching him all the time," added Hadley, seated nearby. "I'm watching him watch me all the time," Bush said.
As for the president, he added, "This guy's really a visionary. ... He defies the conventional wisdom by his boldness. He's unapologetic. He sits there and reaffirms it, and clearly almost relishes it. And, you know, it traumatizes people. And they think, 'What's he doing ... this cowboy?'"
"Those of us who are here believe in him. Believe in him and believe he has greatness in him. He has greatness in him and he could be a great president. We could use one right now."
But what Cornell, Yale and most of the country had missed, Hadley believed he had discovered. "The guy is really strong," he said, and what "people don't recognize is, everybody else needs that strength. And he understands that. ... And all the rest of us need it. We're strong because he's strong."
How could anyone spend 24/7 around that? It sounds like the KCNA describing Kim Jong-Il. Maybe Woodward is playing up Hadley's obsequious moments in order to dramatize Bush's insularity. Then again, maybe he's not.