George W. Bush's innumerable sycopants like to potray him as a down-to-earth man of the people:
a man's man, tough and fearless, a good-ole-boy Texas rancher more at
home in the scrub brush and desert dirt than in the clean, carpeted
corridors of power in Washington.
What then to make of the jarring cognitive dissonance that arises from the portrait of Bush evoked by a passing anecdote briefly noted in the Washington Examiner: the president as a prissy, panicky, possibly obsessive-compulsive prig, requiring a servant to stand next to him and sanitize his hands after pressing the flesh with a visitor?
The story is told by Barack Obama, who in his new book tells of meeting Bush at the White House for the first time. As the Examiner puts it:
[Obama] remembers shaking the hand of the president, who turned to â€œan aide nearby, who squirted a big dollop of hand sanitizer in the presidentâ€™s hand."
â€œNot wanting to seem unhygienic,â€ the senator writes, he also â€œtook a squirt.â€
So what are we to conclude from this vignette? That the rough and tumble rancher is so scared of icky germs â€“ even from a U.S. Senator â€“ that he has to slather his hand with goo every time he touches another human being? Or is this prophylactic only necessary when shaking the hands of certain kinds of human beings?