August 24, 2005: But should he be?
With the Administration vigorously fanning the flames, much ado has been made lately about the POTUS's preternatural physical fitness. Everyone from ass-kissing mainstream media access whores to out-of-shape, party-line, yes-men hacks to groveling, cross-marketing simps, to the seven-time winner of the Tour-de-France (and "longtime friend") Lance Armstrong -- even the hallowed pages of STB,J! have acknowledged Bush's excellent physical conditioning. How can we miss it? Bush's beats per minute (BPM) resting heart rate and body fat percentage are the best numbers this Administration has seen since the last of the hanging chads/tariqs were counted in their latest rigged election -- and right now they're going to war with the numbers they have, not the numbers they'd like to have.
Much the same as they have done with 9/11 and Iraq over the years, the Administration has lately been using the MSM to conflate Bush's undeniable physical fitness with his newest addiction, mountain biking, to form the latest version of the Bush action figure, Bicycle Guy. Of course, Bicycle Guy is much stronger and faster and fitter and ballsier and skilled than anybody they can find to ride with him. Not even Lance Armstrong can outride him.
But let's set aside for the time-being, the question of whether or not Bush is a kick-ass mountain biker. Instead, let's examine the question of whether he should be a kick-ass mountain biker or runner or scrapbooker or Trivial Pursuit player or whatever; whether his body should show absolutely no signs at all of any kind of stress whatsoever; whether he should have several free hours a day to devote to his personal pursuits.
Indeed, how is it that Bush is able to take up a completely new sport and get so good at it that he has to turn to seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong just to find a little competition? And, he's able to dive headlong into this new activity -- two to three hours a day, six days a week -- while holding arguably the toughest, most time-consuming job in the world?
How is this possible? Try 338 vacation days in 5 years and "a disinclination to works nights or weekends." In fact, Bush has already broken Reagan's record for most vacation days ever by a president, and it took that workaholic Type A eight years; Bush still has three and a half years left in his presidency. As a point of comparison, Bill Clinton had taken only 152 vacation days after 7 years in office.
For Bush, the presidency is just a diversion, a day job that ought not interfere with his personal life. As he did in school, in the National Guard, and in his business career, Bush is content to put in the bare minimum of effort needed to get by. While Baghdad burns, the economy churns, and Rove and Rumsfeld worm, Bush is like a kid on summer break. Last week he had Lance Armstrong and a couple of buddies over for a bike ride and a swim in his pool. Though no reporters were allowed in, rumor is that after some Hot Pockets and Mountain Dews, they also played video games and watched R-rated movies.
The presidency is a commitment to public service. A selfless sacrifice of every waking moment to the good of the country and its citizens. The president should not really have time for a personal life. The president should not take up new activities and hobbies. The president should not have an extensive personal reading list (like Dumbya reads the books on his supposed reading list anyway). When you take the Presidential Oath, it should be understood that this gig is all-consuming and you are putting your life on hold for four to eight years.
Bush and his lackeys justify the ample down time by equating it to his ability to perform his duties as president. "The people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy" he told USA Today writer Sal Ruibal, "And part of my being is to be outside exercising."
At some level he's right about this, but there's a big difference between being in good health and being in the top one percent of men in his age group. I'm not saying the the president should be some waddling fatbody like William Howard Taft or a sniffling mama's boy like Woodrow Wilson, but come on, shouldn't a president be dedicated to the nation not to himself? At what point does it stop being dedication to the country and yet another in a long line of self-absorbed addictions?
Bush won't even allow his personal time to be interrupted for national security emergencies. Whether it's somebody shooting at the White House, or a plane straying into restricted airspace over Washington, D.C. and causing the White House and parts of the capitol city to be evacuated, if Bush is exercising, standing orders are to leave him "blissfully unaware."
Bush calls himself "Bicycle Guy" these days. Shouldn't he be calling himself "President Guy"? It would be nice if he put the same amount of vigor and enthusiasm into presidenting as he does into mountain biking.
A president should be working 18-hour days, losing sleep, and showing visible signs of fatigue. I want the POTUS to look like he is working his ass off. But quite the contrary, Bush has made leisure time part of his governing style to the point of arrogance (actually, everything from Bush starts from the point of arrogance and gets worse from there).
Referring to Cindy Sheehan, Bush boasted, "I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say, . . . but it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."
Hold on while I wipe away a tear -- the POTUS really cares and yet he's so centered.
Are we supposed to believe that the Bush genes are so superior that GW has borne the stress of the presidency with a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step while every other president in the last century has sagged visibly under the weight of the responsibility?
Of course Bush tries to convey a busy schedule, but again, the numbers don't add up.
Cox Newspapers reporter Ken Herman reports that "Bush is bucking what appears to be an unhealthy trend. Northeastern University's Robert Gilbert, who has studied presidential health, says life in the oval office has proven unhealthy for past presidents. Gilbert noted that more than two-thirds of U.S. presidents have not reached the average life span of white males of their era. But after several citing several different statistics documenting Bush's superior fitness, Herman is quick to deflect criticism (of course he is -- this is what I'm saying: COMPLICITY) with another quote from Gilbert, "One thing the exercise can't do is stave off the toll that shows on all presidents' faces. 'Five years ago he had a youthful look to him and he doesn't now,' Gilbert said. 'He now looks like a seasoned politician.'"
A seasoned politician! That's the worst that's happened to him? After four years as President of the United States you damn well better look like a seasoned politician.
I want to see some signs that Bush is completely focused on the country rather than himself. I want ulcers, I want migraines, I want insomnia. I know he doesn't completely ignore his day job, let's not be ridiculous, but as with everything else in his life, Bush has built the presidency around his own priorities -- when that whistle blows at 5:00 PM sharp, it's quittin' time baby.
According to Bush, "I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live, and will do so."
I'm sorry, these are not the words of someone who has personally thrown all in for the task of leading and inspiring the country. As Maureen Dowd mentioned in her August 24 New York Times Op-Ed piece "My Private Idaho", Bush is now even taking vacations from his vacations.
So he's in phenomenal shape? So he's an "avid and aggressive" mountain bike rider? Should he be? Should he be spending hours and days of precious time fishing and mountain biking and reading and playing Uno, or should he be spending every second of his time working for the people?
The answer, of course, in somewhere in between, but somewhere very much closer to to complete dedication to the country rather than to himself. Unfortunately, that is a long, long way from where the POTUS seems to be right now.
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