Bush-Watchers Wonder How He Copes With Stress
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
Published: December 25, 2006
WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 — President Bush marched into his year-end news conference last week with the usual zip in his step. As always, he professed little worry about his legacy or the polls. As always, he said the United States would win in Iraq. The nation might despair, but not Mr. Bush; his presidential armor seemed firmly intact.
Yet a longtime friend of Mr. Bush’s recently spotted a tiny crack in that armor. “He looked tired, for the first time, which I hadn’t seen before,” this friend said.
Mr. Bush has never been one for introspection, in public or in private. But the questions of how the president is coping, and whether his public pronouncements match what he feels as he searches for a new strategy in Iraq, have been much on the minds of Bush-watchers these days.
Can the president really believe, as he said on Wednesday, that “victory in Iraq is achievable,” when a bipartisan commission led by his own father’s secretary of state calls the situation there “grave and deteriorating?” Is he truly content to ignore public opinion and let “the long march of history,” as he calls it, pass judgment on him after he is gone? Does he lie awake at night, as President Lyndon B. Johnson did during the Vietnam War, fretting over his decisions?
Mr. Bush addressed the sleep issue in a recent interview with People magazine, saying, “I’m sleeping a lot better than people would assume.”
Yet the president can never really escape the rigors of his job, Laura Bush, the first lady, said in an interview on Sunday on the CBS news program “Face the Nation.” “Sure, he lives with it, 24 hours a day,” Mrs. Bush said. “You don’t have his job and not live with it 24 hours a day.”
But as to whether he second-guesses himself, Mr. Bush gives little quarter, reducing such inquiries to the broad-brush question of whether it was correct to topple Saddam Hussein. Nor does the president seem to question his handling of the postwar period.
His friend, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Bush still believed that Donald H. Rumsfeld “did a great job over all” as the secretary of defense, despite the president’s decision to replace him after Democrats swept the November elections.
“I think he knows it’s bad over there,” this person said, “but I’m not quite sure he fully appreciates the incompetence of what’s gone on.”
I was watching this White House Christmas special last night, and after a couple of minutes, I realized that people would have their Christmases killed by two guys in uniform showing up to tell them their kin was dead.
I became so agigated I had to change the channel
posted by Steve @ 1:02:00 AM