This is interesting.
I think what I took away from the tapes was a small amount of disappointment. What? No admissions of past debauchery? No revelations on the vast oil wealth about to become property of the US government if we do, in fact, annex Iraq? No Burns-like utterances of "eeeeeeeexcellent?"
Just a simple, dimwitted man, rhetorically stunted but basically not a bad person. Bush by himself, not the President, not the scripted stage presence. Just him.
I still don't really like him. But I have come to the realization that he is not evil, he is just not that bright. His administration is evil, not him.
He mentions in the tapes that he didn't like the anti-gay stance of the Republicans, that he is a sinner and can't cast any stones. I don't respect his ambivalence on this issue, but it seems clear that he is- or was, I suppose, since the tapes are a few years old- just a dopey Howdy-Doody puppet at the whims of powers much greater than himself.
This is why the revelation that Bush is not evil holds little consolation for me. He may not be evil, but he is dependent upon the decidedly evil likes of Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld (and all their respective corporate buddies) for his entire presidency. He is incapable of performing without a script (as in the debates) and he can't be taken by surprise. I hope many people who voted for Bush will come to understand that his own personal rhetoric of freedom, Jesus and educational reform mean very little. He talked a good game and may have even believed everything he told his voters, but in the end it is meaningless. He is being operated by powers that hold no stake in the best interests of the American people, the American environment or the global population. Like many addicts and former addicts, he has a bit of an identity crisis. First he was guided by his addictions to booze and drugs. When he was "born again," he was guided by God. Now he is guided by stronger and more powerful personalities and much higher intellects than his own. He is probably like many addicts and has trouble forming an idea of self without these factors in place.
In many ways, Bush himself is being played just as the religious right and other naive true believers are being played. When Bush says on the tapes that he "want[s] to lead" there is a sort of boyish idealism in his voice. He wanted to set an example, he wanted to guide the nation. It's almost sad that he has been president for four years and still believes that he is the one in charge. Or it would be sad, if he weren't so belligerent when he does assert himself.