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Bush gives up sweets, feels "called by God"
    #1423118 - 04/02/03 02:38 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

Here's a typical USA Today attempt to show us the "human side" of W. Subtle propaganda at its finest. In it, we find out that Bush believes he was "called by God" to lead the nation at this time. Never mind the fact that the leaders of all the major Christian denominations (except for the born-again nutjobs) have denounced him.

USA Today

WASHINGTON -- The public face of President Bush (news - web sites) at war is composed and controlled. On TV and in newspaper photos, he is sturdy and assured, usually surrounded by military personnel. But those choreographed glimpses of Bush's commander-in-chief persona don't tell the whole story. Behind the scenes, aides and friends say, the president's role is more complicated and his style more emotional.

People who know Bush well say the strain of war is palpable. He rarely jokes with staffers these days and occasionally startles them with sarcastic putdowns. He's being hard on himself; he gave up sweets just before the war began. He's frustrated when armchair generals or members of his own team express doubts about U.S. military strategy. At the same time, some of his usual supporters are concerned by his insistence on sticking with the original war plan.

Interviews with a dozen friends, advisers and top aides describe a man who feels he is being tested. As might be expected from loyal aides, they portray the president as steady, tough and up to the task, someone whose usual cheer has shifted to a more serious demeanor. Their observations yield a rare inside look at how the president functions in a crisis.

Friends say the conflict is consuming Bush's days and weighing heavily on him. ''He's got that steely-eyed look, but he is burdened,'' says a friend who has spent time with the president since the war began. ''You can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. I worry about him.''

Bush is juggling a lot more than projecting the image of a confident commander in chief. He's a prosecutor who quizzes military officials about their backup plans when things go awry on the battlefield. He's a critic who sees himself as the aggrieved victim of the news media and second-guessers. He's a cheerleader who encourages others not to lose faith in the war plan. He's a supervisor who manages the competing views and egos of top advisers.

The president reads newspapers first thing in the morning, flipping through some of them while he's still in the White House residence instead of waiting for clippings assembled by aides. Through the day, he regularly watches war coverage on the nearest TV, which is in the private dining room next to the Oval Office. He knows when heavy bombardments of Baghdad are scheduled and sometimes tunes in to see them.

As he consumes media accounts of the war, Bush has noted criticism coming even from some people he believes should be his allies. He was stung last year when Brent Scowcroft, his father's national security adviser, wrote a newspaper column questioning the necessity and wisdom of going to war. Similar complaints continue, and some people outside the administration are pressing current Bush advisers to urge him to retool his war plan. The president's aides say he's aware of those efforts but ''discounts'' them.

News coverage of the war often irritates him. He's infuriated by reporters and retired generals who publicly question the tactics of the war plan. Bush let senior Pentagon (news - web sites) officials know that he was peeved when Lt. Gen. William Wallace, the Army's senior ground commander in Iraq (news - web sites), said last week that guerrilla fighting, Iraqi resistance and sandstorms have made a longer war more likely. But Bush has told aides that he wants to hear all the news from the front -- good and bad.

He has a special epithet for members of his own staff who worry aloud. He calls them ''hand-wringers.'' Two days after combat began, he has said acidly, some people were already asking ''how the unconditional surrender talks were going.''

'Do you need to see him?'

Bush makes a point of managing the balance of power in his inner circle. Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) receded from the headlines once the war began, but Bush keeps him near. The president seeks second opinions about military strategy in regular private meetings with Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites). There's another reason Bush keeps Powell close: to signal to the hawks on his team that he values the secretary of State's more cautious approach to diplomacy and war.

Bush's schedule still includes meetings on matters unrelated to the war, many of them on the economy, but the meetings are shorter now. Fewer aides receive permission from chief of staff Andy Card to see the president. ''Do you need to see him or do you want to see him?'' Card asks them.

Bush believes he was called by God to lead the nation at this time, says Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a close friend who talks with Bush every day. His history degree from Yale makes him mindful of the importance of the moment. He knows he's making ''history-changing decisions,'' Evans says. But Bush doesn't keep a diary or other personal record of the events that will form his legacy. Aides take notes, but there's no stenographer in most meetings, nor are they videotaped or recorded.

It's widely assumed that one reason Bush wants to rid the world of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) is to complete the mission his father, former president George Bush, began in 1991. The senior Bush led a coalition to eject Iraqi troops that had invaded Kuwait, but knowing that the U.N.-backed alliance was formed solely to liberate the country, he decided against going on to Baghdad to remove Saddam from power. People who know both men say this war isn't about vengeance. ''It's not personal,'' one Bush aide says.

Rather, the president's passion is motivated by his loathing for Saddam's brutality, aides say. He talks often about his revulsion for Saddam's use of torture, rape and executions. He is convinced that the Iraqi leader is literally insane and would gladly give terrorists weapons to use to launch another attack on the United States.

The thought of another assault on the United States horrifies Bush. Aides say he believes history and heaven will judge him by his ability to prevent one.

Officials don't want Saddam's fate to become the only measure of the war's success. They realize now that it was a mistake in the early days after the Sept. 11 attacks to make al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) the embodiment of the war on terrorism.

But Bush was elated when he was told there was a chance to kill Saddam on the eve of the scheduled start of the war. On March 19, he made a last-minute decision to launch airstrikes on a Baghdad bunker where U.S. intelligence agents had just learned Saddam was spending the night. For days, he grilled aides for information about the Iraqi leader's fate and was dismayed when intelligence officials concluded that Saddam had survived.

Studies battle maps

Sept. 11, 2001, and the assault on al-Qaeda that followed, created a wartime rhythm in the White House that continues today. Bush, who was drilled in corporate style while earning his MBA at Harvard, prefers his days to be structured.

They are now built around war updates. Bush receives a report on overnight developments by phone at 6 a.m. from national security adviser Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites). After an 8 a.m. intelligence briefing, he conducts a National Security Council meeting for 30 minutes to an hour. Afterward, he meets privately with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for a half-hour or so. Bush and Rumsfeld usually talk by phone at least twice later in the day.

In the first days of the conflict, the president's aides said he was leaving the details of war planning to his generals. Then, fearing that he might seem too uninvolved, they began describing him as interested in all the specifics.

That's how the White House message has shifted, but the bottom line is that Bush is an active manager and defender of the war plan. He and Rumsfeld spread out maps of the war zone in their meetings. Bush wants to know where U.S. troops are, where they're headed, what weapons are being used and how the enemy is faring. He rebukes and then bucks up aides who question the tactics, pace or human costs of the war.

Rumsfeld was Richard Nixon's ambassador to NATO (news - web sites) and a White House chief of staff and Defense secretary for Gerald Ford. He won't compare Bush with those presidents, but he likes the way his current boss operates. ''He thinks things through, but when he makes a decision, he makes it, and he doesn't go back and worry about it,'' Rumsfeld says.

Bush advisers say he will revise the war plan if he becomes convinced that it's not working. He doesn't think that's necessary now, they say. Still, even some of Bush's allies say privately that they wish the president would be a little less certain and more willing to reassess decisions. He encourages everybody in a meeting to speak up, he says. But when aides or advisers voice misgivings about the direction of the war -- and some have -- Bush generally admonishes them not to be impatient.

''He sees the ebb and flow, expects it,'' Rumsfeld says. When things go badly, the Defense secretary says, Bush will say something ''if he sees it may be adversely affecting someone's attitude.'' The president will remind them that they had all agreed on the plan knowing that setbacks were inevitable. Rumsfeld says Bush has reminded aides that ''this is something that we weighed and considered.''

Bush is not an expert on military tactics, but he's getting an education from Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was an Air Force combat pilot in Vietnam.

In briefings, Rumsfeld says, Bush ''will frequently say 'Excuse me' and then bore in on something: 'What about this? What about that? If this occurs, what would be the approach you take?' . . . In probing, he also pushes, pushes people to think about things that he does not know whether or not they have thought through.''

Rumsfeld says Bush was equally involved in the planning before the first missiles fell on Baghdad. Because he knew what was coming, Rumsfeld says, the president was prepared for complications, mistakes and losses. ''There is nothing that has surprised him that I know of,'' Rumsfeld says.

Rx for anxiety: Prayer, exercise

When an aide asked Bush recently how the war with Iraq has changed him, the reply was curt: ''We've been at war since Sept. 11.''

People who know Bush well say the burdens of war take a toll on him. His wry humor, which generally punctuates his relationships with his aides, largely evaporates in times of great stress. He can be impatient and imperious.

On March 17, before he delivered a 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam, Bush summoned congressional leaders to the White House. They expected a detailed briefing, but the president told them he was notifying them only because he was legally required to do so and then left the room. They were taken aback, and some were annoyed. They were just as surprised by his buoyant mood two days later at another White House meeting.

At a news conference Thursday at Camp David with British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites), Bush couldn't contain his annoyance at a reporter who asked if the war might last for months. ''However long it takes,'' Bush said sharply. ''That's the answer to your question, and that's what you've got to know.''

Bush isn't usually a worrier, but aides say he spends a lot of time stewing about the families of the slain, the safety of POWs and the flow of humanitarian aid into Iraq.

Bush copes with anxiety as he always has. He prays and exercises. Evans says his friend has a placid acceptance of challenges that comes from his Christian faith.

''He knows that we're all here to serve a calling greater than self,'' Evans says. ''That's what he's committed his life to do. He understands that he is the one person in the country, in this case really the one person in the world, who has a responsibility to protect and defend freedom.''

Bush has imposed an almost military discipline on himself. Even though he's as lean as he was in college, he decided just before the war that he was unhappy with his running times, which were slowing from his preferred pace of 7.5 minutes or less per mile.

So Bush gave up his one indulgence: sweets. It worked; he's losing weight and improving his time.

When Bush doesn't find time to run three or four miles a day, he still works out. He uses an elliptical trainer, lifts weights and stretches. Exercising regularly, he says, gives him time to think, improves his energy and helps him sleep.

He also carves out time for family and friends. He still goes to bed by 10 p.m. and has asked his wife, Laura, to stay close to home. His daughter Barbara and his college friend Roland Betts, a New York business executive, also were with him at Camp David the first weekend of the war. He talks several times a week with his father and mother. He still tells a joke or teases an aide occasionally.

The president's friends and family fret about him, but advisers say the pressure doesn't seem to be getting to him. ''He's not one of those people who blows with the wind,'' Rumsfeld says. ''He has a very good inner gyroscope, a stabilizer that keeps him centered.''

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Re: Bush gives up sweets, feels "called by God" [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1423155 - 04/02/03 02:51 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)


typical USA Today attempt to show us the "human side" of W.

/makes "jerkoff" gesture.


Mp3 of the month: The Loose Enz - The Black Door

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Re: Bush gives up sweets, feels "called by God" [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1423180 - 04/02/03 02:57 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)


Here's a typical USA Today attempt to show us the "human side" of W. Subtle propaganda at its finest. In it, we find out that Bush believes he was "called by God" to lead the nation at this time. Never mind the fact that the leaders of all the major Christian denominations (except for the born-again nutjobs) have denounced him.

Ever consider that perhaps he is being honest? And what denominations have said that they denounce his actions?

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Bush gives up sweets, feels "called by God" [Re: z@z.com]
    #1423273 - 04/02/03 03:30 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

If Bush "honestly" believes that he is on a mission from God, then he is delusional and, in fact, should be impeached on grounds of mental incompetence. The fate of the world should not rest on one man's insane fantasies about having a hotline to God. This is the 21st century, we live in a secular republic, and any modern society that lets itself be run by some guy who hears voices in his head is insane to do so.

As far as the major Christian sects go, the only ones that have come out in favor of this war are the American fundamentalists (the same ones who also can't wait for the Apocalypse--i.e. the end of the world--and the "Rapture" to descend upon us) and, for some inexplicable reason, the Bulgarian Orthodox church.

Vatican, Other Churches, Deplore War

There was also an item in the news a couple of months ago where the head of the Episcopal church in America (the same church that George H.W. Bush, but not George W. Bush, belongs to) called President Bush "reprehensible."

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Re: Bush gives up sweets, feels "called by God" [Re: EchoVortex]
    #1423289 - 04/02/03 03:40 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

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Re: Bush gives up sweets, feels "called by God" [Re: z@z.com]
    #1423301 - 04/02/03 03:43 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

the pope is the only one i know of that has denouced the war. i'm sure there are more factions of christianity that have denouced it though.

Religion is for people who are afraid of going to Hell; spirituality is for those who have been there.

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Poor Bush.. [Re: JonnyOnTheSpot]
    #1424055 - 04/02/03 08:30 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

Check this story out....


I guess we're trying to make Dubya appear human now? Gee, I guess I'm supposed to feel sorry for him or something. We're all supposed to send in a card pledging to pray for Bush's well-being. :smirk: Give me a break!

"Sorry the grand scheme isn't turning out as planned, Mr. President." :tongue: 

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