Steve Benen continues:
C'mon. We're talking about a guy who's supposed to be folksy and simple. It's an image the White House has worked hard to cultivate over the years. The president seems to enjoy it — otherwise he wouldn't openly mock people with PhDs.
The fact that the White House gang is experimenting with a new persona — Bush, the reader — is embarrassing. He's not supposed to be about book learnin'; he's about governing by instinct and relying on the advice of educated people who tell him what he wants to hear. Switching gears now is not only literally unbelievable, it's pointless. The die is already cast.
There have been a number of these ridiculous PR stunts over the course of the Bush Administration, but this is one of the more obvious and sadder ones. It's also one that they've been pushing for at least a few months now (you may remember that the line Bush used to sneak off to Baghdad for his last trip was, "Excuse me, I'm going to go read..."). The good news is that Bush's overriding need to change his image may be due to internal polls showing that the people have figured out that a "shoot-from-the-hip guy I want to drink with" president isn't such a good idea. Such a change of opinion requires some pretty serious un-branding.
I think this image is not so much an issue of cubila jacta est ("the die is cast") as much as Erasmus' correction cubila jacta esto ("oh, what the hell...")