According to Bruni, the press' querulous fixation on Bush's verbal gaffes was the result of reporters trying to "quell the boredom" of having to cover stump speeches. This was "undoubtedly one reason -- and not an especially noble one -- that we came to focus so much on his unintended and unfortunate torturings of the text."
Inasmuch as the reporters covering Gore did not seem to be afflicted by the same phenomenon, another explanation for the obsession with Bush's mistakes could be the media's deep, burning hatred for Republicans. As Bruni also notes, Gore "tended to drone on and on, in singsong, narcotizing cadences best endured by the heavily caffeinated."
Incongruously -- and reminding us of the degenerate crowd he hangs with -- Bruni adds, "Clinton nostalgia was inevitable: None of these guys filled a room the way he did." Why does the media keep saying this?
We'll never hear the end of Bush saying "subliminable," but the press has collective amnesia on Clinton having nearly ended his political career with that gaseous windbag of a speech he gave at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. More tellingly: Can anyone remember a single meaningful phrase Clinton ever uttered? His most famous lines are laugh lines.
Indeed, it was precisely because of the Clinton-induced nostalgia for former President Bush that his son emerged as the early front-runner in the 2000 presidential election.
One of Bruni's most affecting stories about Bush is how he became homesick on the campaign trail. "An unusual theme started coursing through his less scripted remarks," Bruni writes. "He talked about how much he missed his three cats, Ernie, India and Cowboy, and his dog, Spot." Bush, Bruni observes, "was homesick, so much so that he could not help but let it show."
When Bruni later asked Bush if he had any tricks for making hotel rooms more comfortable, Bush revealed that he brought his own feather pillow with him when he traveled. That was cute enough, but a few days later, Bruni reports, Bush "asked us if we too traveled with our own pillows and expressed surprise that we didn't." The only travel aid Clinton seemed never to be without were stacks of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" for regular distribution to his girlfriends.
Whatever Bruni's style and political predilections, he is an honest and perceptive reporter. That cannot help but produce a portrait of Bush as an affectionate, playful, completely genuine person -- in every way the molecular opposite of the flimflam artist previously occupying that office. The country can sleep well at night. We know Bush does.
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