Throughout his presidency, as one or another early Bush myth fell away -- that his first priority was "compassionate conservatism," that he was disinterested in nation-building, etc. -- he still clung to one fundamental legend from his 2000 campaign: that in person he's a powerfully charming guy, someone you'd like to have a beer with, even if he did run your country to hell. (Just one example of the Bush-is-charming oeuvre: former Democratic California governor Gray Davis once enthused that "it would be fun to go to a baseball game with him.")

In these days of decline, though, even that legend is crumbling. In his new memoir, Harry Reid relates a funny anecdote from his first sit-down with Bush after the 2006 Republican drubbing:

And so now in defeat, the President was in the unfamiliar position of straining for comity. Unpracticed at humility, Bush’s appeal was not very convincing. “You’re from the West. I’m from the West,” he said to me. “We’re both just two dudes from the West.”

This is the charm of which even Bill Clinton sang in 2000? Sounds like that beer would be the longest, dullest beer of one's life.

--Eve Fairbanks