Wednesday, January 18, 2006
I'm no knee-jerk Bush hater, though, admittedly, I will always remain bitter over his defeat of John McCain back in 2000. Isn't that akin to preferring the film adaptation of "Bonfire of the Vanities" to the book version?
Regardless, I'm not always close-minded to those who praise W., but Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes pushes the effusive envelope with his lapdog love letter, "Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush."
Bush is a president who leads. "If we do not lead, people will suffer," the president told me in an interview I conducted specifically for this book. He controls the national agenda, uses his presidential powers to the fullest and then some, proposes far-reaching policies likely to change the way Americans live, reverses other long-standing policies, and is the foremost leader in world affairs. All the while, he courts controversy, provokes the press, and polarizes the country. The president doesn't worry about running the day-to-day activity of his own government; all he has to manage is the White House staff and individual cabinet secretaries.
His job, he told me, is to "stay out of minutiae, keep the big picture in mind, but also make sure that I know enough about what's going on to get the best information possible." To stress the point, during our interview in the Oval Office Bush called my attention to the rug; he had been surprised, he said, to learn that the first decision a president is expected to make is what color the rug should be. "I wasn't aware that presidents were rug designers," he told me. So he delegated the task--to Laura. Typical of his governing style, though, he gave a clear principle as guidance: he wanted the rug to express the view that an "optimistic person comes here."
"I feel the words building inside me, I can't stop them, or tell you why I say them, but as I reach the top of the bridge these words come to me in a whisper. I say these words as a prayer, as regret, as praise, I say: W., W., W. ..."
---from "Prince of Tides," only slightly paraphrased