The Prez & The Dude

The Prez & The Dude July 26, 2008

Bush holding Stanley Debshaw before leaving the Peoria Airport (Xinhua/Reuters Photo) (H/T Fausta)

How great is that shot? How adorable is that kid? The picture is part of a 4-shot gallery of photos entitled Bush’s fun with kids at airport, and all four shots are excellent. I especially liked this one, of the president sharing a laugh with a primary school principal:

It is amazing to me that this president, who has a very full plate and carries the stigma of being “the most vilified and hated being in the entire world” – more hated than Mugabe, Chavez, Castro, A-jad, Kaddafi, Jong Il, or the rest – manages to keep his sense of humor and more importantly his humanity.

Obama could take a few lessons from Bush.

It is easy to be loved when you look good, give a great speech and do nothing, and it’s easy to be hated once you’re actually engaged in making decisions and standing by them. A real leader has to – like a parent – be willing to be hated. I’ve always thought Bill Clinton’s greatest weakness as a president was his need to be loved. It kept him beholden to polls instead of possibilities.

The thing is, one has to follow one’s own lights – do the best one can with whatever wisdom and sense the Holy Spirit has lain upon you – and not worry too much about polls and op-eds. Polls are both malleable and fickle, op-eds are designed to provoke. If you’re doing your honest best, you can sleep at night, and shake off the hate, day-by-day. If you’re not, and you know you’re not, the hate rankles.

Chesterton had a punny saying:

Angels can fly, because they take themselves lightly…Satan fell by the force of gravity.

Perhaps he should have said, “gravitas.”

Today, I offer a prayer for the president and the principal and Stanley the Little Dude, and for Obama and McCain – presuming one of them will be our next president – and for our nation.

Prayer is good. It humanizes us and those we pray for, and in this awful political season we are de-humanizing at a terrible pace. This president has managed for 8 difficult and contentious years, to keep his humanity, and to lead without the halo-assists. I think that’s pretty remarkable. George W. Bush? Rather a lot Atticus Finch.

I still like President Bush. And I don’t actually give a crap what anyone thinks about that.

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