According to an article in today’s New York Times, Bush is giving the Iraq war his full attention: President keeps the battlefield close at hand. I liked the following story:
George W. Bush was standing three feet from his television screen in his cabin at Camp David last weekend, absorbed in every detail of the news from Iraq, when a correspondent came on to report that the president of the United States, according to White House officials, was not glued to the TV.
Mr. Bush started laughing, said his close friend Roland Betts, who was with the president at the time.
“He is just totally immersed,” Mr. Betts said in an interview.
Like his daddy before him, the famously disengaged president who nonetheless was visibly vibrating with excitement when he announced that “the liberation of Kuwait has begun,” the current Bush really seems to get off on going to war (or, to be more precise, sending others to war — though see this recent Onion piece for a delicious alternate reality: Bush bravely leads 3rd Infantry into battle).
Digging deeper into the relationship between the two presidents’ penchant for waging war on Iraq, Kevin Phillips has an interesting piece in today’s LA Times: A family’s path to war. It talks about something biographers have noticed about Dubya: a deep-rooted psychological need he seems to have to follow in his father’s footsteps, to prove himself, or something. The article talks about the eery parallels in the timelines leading up to the two presidents’ wars (initially floated in the second year of office, then launched in the spring of the third, helping to distract the country from naggingly persistent troubles with the domestic economy). Phillips continues:
Yet, these parallels would not count for much if they did not reflect a larger pattern that has fascinated Bush biographers — the way in which the 43rd president, from the time he was a schoolboy, has tried to imitate his father’s mannerisms and follow his career path. He went to his father’s schools, Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and Yale University; played his father’s sport (baseball); and joined his father’s secret society (Skull and Bones) at Yale. Thereafter, he became a military flier like his father and then went into the oil business in Midland, Texas, where he set up his little company in the same office building where his father had his business.
Two biographers, Elizabeth Mitchell and Bill Minutaglio, note that, like his father, George W. wanted to get married, while at Yale, to a girl who had attended his mother’s college. The fiancee, however, broke off the engagement in part because she worried about the psychologies driving the footsteps pattern.
To be sure, the career paths of No. 41 and No. 43 have not been exactly parallel: George W. had no experience as a diplomat and his father none as governor of Texas. However, since the United States is again at war in the Persian Gulf, the footsteps enigma that has fascinated biographers should interest a larger audience, as well.