Evan Thomas of Newsweek managed to get amazing mileage out of his "Bush is in a bubble" trope. Voices ranging from the snarky (and overrated) Maureen Dowd through our favorite Reagan-era economic adviser Bruce Bartlett have endorsed Thomas's breakthrough insight.
I'd like to suggest that there's something else at work here. I think Bush does have a bit of a bubble around him, but it's not quite what's been suggested this week. What Thomas, Dowd, Bartlett and others really object to is this -- Bush isn't listening to what they have to say. If you are a star reporter, or exalted columnist, or even a highly credentialed economist, you typically expect a certain amount of fealty to your opinions. This president couldn't care less what they think. And if you expect fealty, that's especially infuriating.
As it happens, I think Bruce Bartlett is largely correct about George W. Bush's profligate spending habits. But I don't think he is entitled to having his notions enacted every time a Republican occupies the Oval Office. As for Dowd and Thomas, their views are widely known, essentially static and easily discounted.
We all live in bubbles; our views are a product of our upbringing, education and habitat. One of the most conspicuous bubbles is the Boswash Bubble, an especially durable membrane stretched over the major population centers of the East Coast. For many inside the bubble, life is easy and assumptions are pretty much locked in place about the proper role of government, the morality of certain behaviors, protean ethical standards and the hopeless provincialism of those outside the bubble. Bush in this context is an outsider, an axiomatic moron.
Do I stereotype the views of these Boswash Bubble denizens? Oh yes. But no more than Thomas and Dowd.