Bush backs down as Britain bellows

In recent memory, few presidents have been as sheltered from criticism as President George W. Bush. He is admittedly aloof

from public opinion and prefers to have news filtered through

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice or White House chief of staff Andrew Card.

Comfortably protected from direct public criticism, Bush’s press conferences are typically scripted. With the exception of military bases, Bush rarely, if ever, makes outdoor appearances. Unfortunately, Bush’s sheltered presidency continues as he canceled Tuesday’s address to the British Parliament in London.

England is in a buzz. London’s mayor said Bush is “the greatest threat to life on the planet.” Some estimate 100,000 protesters will fill the streets of London during Bush’s three-day visit. Sixteen thousand police officers will try to maintain order. Hundreds of armed undercover agents will peruse the crowds, and armed snipers will patrol rooftops. School children, nudists, effigies and the genuine swirl of protesters will make their way along Downing Street to march against Bush’s policies.

With polls before his visit showing only 20 percent approval for his actions in Iraq, Bush, as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, faces the protesters’ outrage. For Bush, the extended stay represents an unusual exposure to pressure. Bush’s eight-hour October visit to the Philippines and three-hour stay in Indonesia were ludicrously short. Out of fear that British Parliament members would criticize Bush, similar to what occurred in his visit to Australia, no meeting will be held. Instead, Bush will meet with individuals less likely to publicly criticize his policies.

Bush has said he will not back down from enemies of the United States; the least he could do is stand up to its critics.