Alex Massie

Further Perils of Jogging

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David Frum reads Robert Draper's Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush, and reports [emphasis added]:

If he [Bush] has anything more to say, it will  have to wait for later. But my guess is that he has nothing to say. What Ulysses S. Grant said of himself is true of George W. Bush: He is a verb. He is able to do, to be, and to suffer. He cannot analyze or explain. His actions must be judged by results; any mysteries in the record will be clarified, to the extent they ever are, by the memoirs of his subordinates and the opening of the administration archives after the fact.

This does not mean that Draper's book lacks interest. On the contrary, it is very interesting, and especially interesting on the president's early life and his governorship... Draper captures some of the darker sides of the president's personality: his occasional petulance, his sometimes disdainful treatment of those who work for him, his sometimes excessive emphasis on his exercise program to the exclusion of other responsibilities.

Mitt Romney, of course, is a maniac jogger too and worth opposing just for that reason even if there weren't other excellent arguments (and, my word, there are!) for treating his candidacy sceptically.

Happily however, there are other options available to Republican voters in January. Fred Thompson, his ill-advised weight loss aside, does not strike one as a natural gym rat, while John McCain, for obvious reasons, has also avoided fetishising physical  exercise.

On the other hand, Governor Huckabee is ruled out of bounds on account of being most famous for shedding 150 pounds and, consequently, being likely to insist everyone else do so too.

Ron Paul, I'm glad to say, does not strike me as a man likely to place "excessive emphasis on his exercise program".*

Still, Frum's aside is one of the more damning assessments of Bush's character that one has seen from those who once worked for the President.

*UPDATE: Commenter Alexia informs me that Ron Paul is actually an "avid exerciser". Shame.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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