The president is more frustrated than ever. Washington Post:
President Bush finds the world around him increasingly "unacceptable." In speeches, statements and news conferences this year, the president has repeatedly declared a range of problems "unacceptable," including rising health costs, immigrants who live outside the law, North Korea's claimed nuclear test, genocide in Sudan and Iran's nuclear ambitions. [... A] survey of transcripts from Bush's public remarks over the past seven years shows the president's worsening political predicament has actually stoked, rather than diminished, his desire to proclaim what he cannot abide. Some presidential scholars and psychologists describe the trend as a signpost of Bush's rising frustration with his declining influence. In the first nine months of this year, Bush declared more than twice as many events or outcomes "unacceptable" or "not acceptable" as he did in all of 2005, and nearly four times as many as he did in 2004. He is, in fact, at a presidential career high in denouncing events he considers intolerable. [...] Through a spokesman and then in a televised statement, he declared North Korea's claimed nuclear test "unacceptable" before and after it occurred Oct. 9. But he could also be heard on Jan. 9 lecturing students at an elementary school in Glen Burnie, Md., that their recent scores on math and reading proficiency tests were "unacceptable." [...] Bush's use of the term "reflects in some ways his frustration with a world that doesn't seem as amenable to his policies as he would like them to be," said Stanley A. Renshon, a political scientist at the City University of New York. Bush "has strong views; he believes in doing what is right. All of those things give an emotional force to his response" to events he often sees and describes without nuance. [...] Bush's targets expanded from 2003 to 2005 to include nine condemnations of "unacceptable" actions by Iraq and Iran, as well as the Social Security system and the administration's own response to the Katrina hurricane. This year, he has hurled the term "unacceptable" at actions by Iraqi insurgents and police, at supporters of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, and at a U.S. law making the degrading treatment of detainees a war crime. North Korea's planned firing of a missile was unacceptable, Bush said June 29; after Pyongyang fired several missiles July 4, Bush again labeled the action unacceptable on July 7 and July 10. He also deemed unacceptable the country's starving of its people, its use of concentration camps and its claimed nuclear test. Using such a categorical term is not that surprising after a policy setback, according to Steven Kull, a political psychologist who directs the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes. Some people deal with failures, Kull said, "by intensifying an authoritarian posture and insisting that their preferences are equivalent to a moral imperative." [...] Moisés Naím, the editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine, said there is a relationship between "how strident and extreme" the language of many leaders is and how limited their options are. For Bush, Naím said, "this comes at a time when the world is convinced he is weaker than ever." Many foreigners think the United States is losing Iraq and are no longer in awe of U.S. military might, Naím said, and at home, Bush is so weak that Republican candidates are wary of appearing with him. "The world has noticed," Naím said. "What is happening is that a lot that was deemed unacceptable [by Bush] now has become normal and tolerable."