The president visited Mount Vernon today to pose with an actor posing as George Washington posing as if Bush wasn’t there. Which, of course, he wasn’t.
During the short Q&A that followed the posing, Mr Bush compared Iraq to the American Revolution and himself to Washington:
“With the advantage of hindsight, it is easy to take George Washington’s successes for granted,” Mr. Bush said after enumerating Washington’s achievements as commander of the Continental Army and later as president. But “America’s path to freedom was long and it was hard,” he continued, “and the outcome was never really certain.”
The press-clatch quickly applauded a rare occasion when the president managed to string two whole sentences together without reading them off a teleprompter, and then, marveling at his knowledge, asked how he had come by it.
“I’m reading about George Washington still,” the president told reporters….
Witness can now reveal that the book Mr Bush has been reading for the last two weeks is Mary Louise Barnhoff’s The Big Book of George Washington. Ms Barnhoff is a third-grade teacher in Altoona, Pennsylvania. We reached her by phone.
WP: How do you feel about the president’s attachment to your book? Proud?
MLB: Yes, I guess so. I’m a little surprised, naturally.
WP: Oh? Why’s that?
MLB: Well…I wrote it for 7-yr-olds. It’s mostly pictures. I can’t imagine why it’s taken him two weeks to read it.
WP: Kind of a long time, you think?
MLB: Well, most of my third-graders get through it in about 20 minutes.
WP: Mr Bush seems quite taken with it.
MLB: Is he? I can’t imagine why. I don’t know what an adult would get out of it.
WP: He explained that. He said, “My attitude is, if they’re still analyzing No. 1, 43 ought not to worry about it and just do what he thinks is right, and make the tough choices necessary.”
MLB: That’s odd….
WP: What is?
MLB: My book is a collection of stories about when Washington was a boy, and the only “tough choice” in it is the story of Washington and his mother’s colt.
WP: I don’t think I know that one. What was the “tough choice” he made?
MLB: Well, his mother had a sorrell colt, her favorite. It was a beautiful animal but vicious. No one could break it to the saddle. Washington decided that he would be the one to do it, no matter what it took. The colt leaped and bucked and shook himself like a dog but Washington never lost his seat.
WP: So he succeeded in breaking the colt for his mother.
MLB: No. The exertion was too much for the colt and it dropped dead when a blood vessel burst.
WP: Oh, dear.
MLB: Yes. It was a tough choice and Washington made the wrong one. His mother was very unhappy about it.
WP: I can imagine.
MLB: But of course, Washington learned from his mistake.
WP: What did he learn?
MLB: Why, to listen to people who knew more than he did.
WP: Maybe that’s what the president got out of it, too.
MLB: Maybe. Doesn’t sound like it, though. It seems to me he reached the opposite conclusion to the one I intended. I don’t know how. The story isn’t all that complicated or I couldn’t use it for third-graders.
WP: Yes, well –
MLB: I’ll have to go back and read it again. I must have made a mistake somewhere….
WP: Yes, well –
MLB: My students never get that out of it, though. “Don’t worry about it.” They never say that. I don’t understand how the president could have misunderstood something so simple. I –
WP: Yes, well, thank you for talking to us today, Ms Barnhoff, and congratulations on being a presidential influence.
MLB: Where did I go wrong?