Blue Bush does 'a lot of crying'
WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush is prone to bouts of crying caused by the stress of his job and claims to have seen ghosts emerge from the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House, according to a new book on his presidency.
In a series of remarkably candid admissions by a sitting president, Bush confides to author John Draper that he has been "sustained by the discipline of the faithful experience" during the most difficult days of his presidency.
"I've got God's shoulder to cry on. And I cry a lot," Bush says in Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush, which was released to U.S. bookstores Tuesday.
"I do a lot of crying in this job. I'll bet I've shed more tears than you can count, as president. I'll shed some tomorrow."
Hampered by some of the worst approval ratings of any U.S. president, Bush reveals he tries to keep the mood at the White House "relatively lighthearted" and that his wife, Laura, often gives him a gentle reproach to jolt him out of his gloomier moods.
"She reminds me that I decided to do this. Nobody decided it but me," Bush says. "Self-pity is the worst thing that can happen to a presidency. This is a job where you can have a lot of self-pity."
Draper conducted six interviews with Bush in recent years -- most recently in May 2007 -- and coaxed a bevy of previously unknown details about some of the most turbulent moments of his presidency.
The book details his reluctance to seek United Nations approval for an Iraq war resolution because of his contempt for the organization. Bush describes his continuing dislike for the UN by recounting running across former president Bill Clinton at a UN meeting in June 2006.
"Six years from now, you're not gonna see me hanging out in the lobby of the UN," Bush told the author.
The book casts Bush as disengaged -- almost disinterested -- as hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf Coast on Aug. 28, 2005.
On the day before hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Bush spent a relaxing day riding his mountain bike and swimming on his ranch in Crawford, Texas. By the time he joined an emergency videoconference about Katrina, Bush was so "gassed" by his physical exertion he did not ask any questions about the federal government's preparedness, the book says.
Bush also bluntly discusses the emotional toll Iraq has taken on him, saying that overseeing the current troop surge has been a "tiring period."
Discussing his past battles with alcohol, Bush says he would never be able to make decision on war if he was still drinking.
"Exercise helps. And I think prayer helps," he says. "I wouldn't be president if I kept drinking. You can get sloppy, can't make decisions, it clouds your reason, absolutely."
The book also adds new information about the Bush administration's over-optimistic assessment of how quickly the U.S. would stabilize Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
When a senior congressional Republican warned Dick Cheney in August 2002 that the U.S. would get mired in Iraq, the vice-president reportedly scoffed.
"It'll be like the American army going through the streets of Paris (in the Second World War)," Cheney said. "The people will be so happy with their freedoms that we'll probably back ourselves out of there within a month or two."
Despite the current problems plaguing Iraq, Bush seems "more serene" about the prospects for victory and is already planning his own post-White House career.
Bush said he plans to "replenish the ol' coffers" by speaking on the lecture circuit, where he can make "ridiculous" money recounting his White House experiences.
"I don't know what my dad gets. But it's more than 50, 75 (thousand)," Bush said. "Clinton's making a lot of money."
Perhaps the oddest revelation is an episode from 1992, when his father was still president and he was visiting the White House.
Bush found the White House a "creepy place," Draper writes. After exercising in a White House gym one evening, Bush has told a friend he froze in his steps while approaching the Lincoln Bedroom.
Bush insists "he saw ghosts -- coming out of the wall," according to a friend.
The book provides rare details, too, on some of the internal clashes of a White House frequently portrayed as a well-oiled political machine.
Among the most surprising tidbits is the revelation that senior Bush adviser Karl Rove adamantly opposed the selection of Cheney as Bush's running mate in the 2000 election.
"Selecting Daddy's top foreign-policy guru ran counter to message. It was worse than a safe pick, it was needy," writes Draper, who interviewed both Cheney and Rove for the book.
Blue Bush does 'a lot of crying'