There's a picture of George W. Bush talking to Donald Rumsfeld on the front page of the NY Times today. It infuriated me instantly, so I sat and tried to analyze my own rage.
Here's what I figured out: There is a reason why every picture of George W. Bush bears no physical resemblance to any other pictures you can find of burdened world leaders. A casual perusal of photographs of other heads of state in times of crisis reveals men with lined faces who appear to have been sitting at long stressful meetings. Although all of our presidents, from FDR to Hoover to Kennedy to George HW Bush, have been expensively, and even nattily attired, their clothes still look worn. They look creased and disheveled from activity. Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy are two men who looked great in suits. But the suits looked like they had been attending meetings, and lunches and briefings. The suits looked like they had been part of a busy day.
That is not the case with this president.
Every picture of him, (not counting the famous one on the aircraft carrier) shows him wearing the most thoroughly unrumpled suit I have ever seen on a man who wasn't standing behind a podium introducing guests. Much has been written about his perpetual smirk. Maybe "smirk" isn't the right word. That patented carefree here-comes-another-quip facial expression of his may be the perfect accessory to what he is really showcasing: those immaculately pressed, carefully fitted never-worn-before suits. George W. Bush's suits look like they are freshly steamed and ready for an hour (with breaks for commercials) of making ribald remarks, bantering with celebrities and handing out statuettes.
I am starting to think that the reason for this is because George W. Bush isn't looking to our country's political history to provide him with his image. After all, he seems to admit to have been reading one book about George Washington for the past several years.
No, my new theory is Bush isn't thinking "President" when he is imagining his role models. He is thinking "master of ceremonies". Everything about him in those photos reminds me of Johnny Carson on the Tonight show or at the Academy Awards. Those suits of his say "Here's George!" and " We'll be back right after this..." And that might go a long way toward explaining why he coined the phrase The Decider when he was describing himself. He isnt really our forty third president. He is our country's first elected host.