By Pablo Fanque
All This Is That National Affairs editor
Illustrations by Jack Brummet
click to enlarge this VidCap
He welcomed retirement as an opportunity to "replenish the coffers," but ex-President George W. Bush has largely spent the last 296 days waiting for the phone to ring and trying to fill the long hours between dawn and sunset.
Two staffers wrote in email exchanges with me that in his early days of retirement on the ranch, President Bush became so "agitated" over negative references in the press that staff took to hiding newspapers or magazines with articles that might upset him.
Naturally, The New York Times and Washington Post have virtually disappeared from the media packet he receives each morning. In fact, his staff, on numerous occasions, has hidden the White House Daily Intelligence Briefing because of references to his administration's mistakes, errors, and misdemeanors.
Ex-Veep Cheney no longer bothers with appearances. He quit telephoning The Ex-President not long after leaving office. Although Dick Cheney spent much of 2009 defending the Bush Administration's actions and policies, he no longer speaks with his former boss. When President Bush refused to give Cheney's hatchet-man Scooter Libby a full and unconditional pardon, the cord was severed. Any drum beating Cheney does on the talk show circuit and elsewhere is strictly self-aggrandizing. When The President showed a little backbone, the Vice President lost interest. With George Bush no longer his compliant Jerry Mahoney, the Vice-President was no longer pitching, but catching.
Not only are GWB's old friends not around, but Laura Bush is frequently absent as well. After she sloughed the shackles of the White House, she began to enjoy life again, traveling, going to the opera, and out to dinner with old friends (where she can drink). She often flies off for extended weekends at spas with a close group of friends. While she is away, the former President often sits and stares out the window.
There have also been moments of confusion that worry friends and staffers. One ranch-hand told me about the time George Bush climbed on a horse backward and asked him "why does this saddle have no horn?" Another staffer reported The President asking him to fuel up his cigarette boat so he could go fishing. The ranch is land-locked.
As perhaps the final indignity, President Bush's enuresis has returned. As you may recall, we earlier reported on The former President's problem with bed-wetting.
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