The Plank

Barnes Watch


"The White House staff reflects the president. This is obvious to the point of being a truism."

This is a truism? Really? Anyway, that's how Fred Barnes leads off his column in The Weekly Standard this week. It's titled "Cheerleader in Chief". And for those of us who thought Bush was depressed by his low approval ratings and disastrous policies, well, think again:

Bush's relentlessly upbeat demeanor, which he flaunts at press conferences and other public events, infuriates his political opponents and much of the mainstream media. They want him to act like the broken man they think he should be. Sorry, but he's a healthy man, mentally and physically. He's bolstered by his religious faith, his sense of mission, his scorn for elite opinion, and what an aide calls "his really good physical shape." Exercise and sleep help to "keep his spirits high," the aide says.

Good of Barnes to set the record straight because it had seemed to me like Bush has been cranky and grumpy, especially with the press, for a good four years now.

Is Barnes going to move down to Crawford when the Bush presidency ends? If not, these weekly love notes will be sorely missed.

--Isaac Chotiner

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