WASHINGTON — They rule their world ruthlessly and insolently, deciding who will get a cold shoulder, who will get locked out of the power clique and who will get withering glares until they grovel and obey the arbitrary dictates of the leaders.
We could be talking about the middle-school alpha girls, smug cheerleaders with names like Darcy, Brittany and Whitney.
But, no, we're talking about the ostensibly mature and seasoned leaders of the Western world, a slender former cheerleader named W. and his high-hatting clique — Condi, Rummy and Cheney.
I used to think the Bush hawks suffered from testosterone poisoning, always throwing sharp elbows and cartoonishly chesty my-way-or-the-highway talk around the world, when a less belligerent tone would be classier and more effective.
But now we have the spectacle of the 70-year-old Rummy acting like a 16-year-old Heather, vixen-slapping those lower in the global hierarchy, trying to dominate and silence the beta countries with less money and fewer designer weapons.
At a meeting of NATO defense ministers this week in Warsaw, the Pentagon chief snubbed his German counterpart, Peter Struck, refusing to meet with him, only deigning to shake his hand at a cocktail party.
Echoing Condi's peevishness, Rummy announced that the campaign of Gerhard Schröder, who eked out a victory by running against the Bush push to invade Iraq, "had the effect of poisoning a relationship."
In their eagerness to apply adolescent torture methods, Bush hawks seem to have forgotten history: Do we really want to punish the Germans for being pacifists? Once those guys get rolling in the other direction, they don't really know how to put the brakes on.
Mr. Schröder behaved like a good beta, trying to align himself with the American alphas, by dumping his embarrassing friends, the justice minister who linked Mr. Bush's tactics to Hitler's, and the parliamentary floor leader who compared W. to Augustus, the Roman emperor who subdued the Germanic tribes.
Mr. Struck and the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, were eager wannabes. Mr. Struck offered more German troops for Afghanistan and Mr. Fischer apologized to Colin Powell, the administration's gamma girl, the careful listener who'd always rather build relationships than run roughshod over them.
Gerhard will have to go through way more of a shame spiral. He can forget about getting Germany a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. And no more bratwurst on White House menus.
The State Department wanted the petulant president to make nice with the Germans. But W. was, like, enjoying his hissy fit, refusing to make the customary call to congratulate Mr. Schröder.
As with alpha girls, the president makes leadership all about him. He thinks there are only two places to be: with him on Iraq or with the terrorists.
After all, Germany is not Saudi Arabia — they have elections over there. And surely the Bushes have heard of candidates saying whatever it takes, and placating various special interests, to win an election — and then mending fences afterward. Three words: Bob Jones University. All pols know today's adversary is tomorrow's ally.
Maybe the Bush policy on Empire & Pre-emption allows us to decide not only who can run a country, but what are the proper issues for other nations' election debates.
Bush senior was a master of personal diplomacy, taking heads of state out on his cigarette boat, to Orioles games and to the Air and Space Museum to see the movie "To Fly."
He was a foreign policy realist who used socializing, gossiping, notes and phone calls to lubricate relations with other leaders.
But W., who was always the Roman candle and hatchet man in the family, has turned his father's good manners upside down — consulting sparingly, leaving poor Tony Blair to make the case against his foes for him, and treating policy disagreements as personal slights.
Only the Saudis get away with disobliging the administration on Iraq without being frozen out. They're like the spoiled, foreign princesses in high school, dripping in Dolce & Gabbana and Asprey, who drive their Mercedes convertibles into the magic alpha circle.
But then, Germans merely make Mercedes. Saudis control the oil.