In reading this fantastic account of a blogger’s one-on-one with President Bush, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of deja vu in Rex’s comments:
If George W. Bush could spend 25 minutes chatting with everybody in America like he did with me and five other folks today, he would win any election by a landslide. Despite the formality of the setting, he immediately put us all at ease with grace and hospitality. He was personable and seemed genuinely curious about each of us and our individual pionts of view on the subject we were there to discuss.
Read the whole post for the context. It’s a great post all around.
The deja vu I mentioned is this: I can vividly recall the feeling that after the ’92, ’96, and ’00 elections, when I said: “If only he’d done that while campaigning, he would have won.”
Several months after losing the ’92 election, President Bush did an interview with Katie Couric on the Today Show. He joked, showed a sense of resolve, and demonstrated a remarkable command of a wide variety of subjects. It was breath-taking — not so much because he knew his stuff (say what you will about Bush 41, but he was no dummy), but because the relaxed, confident man you saw on TV was orders of magnitude different than the defensive, out-of-touch one you saw on the campaign trail.
Ditto in ’96. Days after losing (maybe the day after?), Bob Dole went on Letterman. He wasn’t just funny, he was hysterical. (Letterman asked Dole about Clinton’s weight, to which Dole quipped, “I didn’t try to lift him, I just tried to beat him.”) I had the same reaction to Dole’s 180 that I did to Bush’s four years earlier: why didn’t we see this side of him during the campaign?
Then there was Al Gore in 2000. The first sign that Dole might have more to him than the media persona was his remarkably graceful concession speech. He bowed out, took his lumps, and moved on. He was not the image the media had given us, he was a leader. I have no doubt that a few votes would have flipped that night if they’d had the chance.
Which brings me to President Bush (43). Rex’s account of his meeting with the President is touching, in a way that makes you proud to be an American. Readers of this blog know I’m no fan of President Bush’s policies, but I do admire his leadership. This account just reinforces my belief that he has a good instinct for the one-on-one — a side of him that we almost never see. I’ll bet we see a lot more of these in the months to come. (What are the odds we’ll get lucky and another blogger will be invited?!)
(Extra credit to anyone who can provide the reference for the title of the post.)