Presidents Acting Badly

PRESIDENTS ACTING BADLY….What’s going on with the George Bush rumor mill?

Last year Capitol Hill Blue reported that Bush was taking anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia. “Bush’s mental stability has become the topic of Washington whispers in recent months. Capitol Hill Blue first reported on June 4 about increasing concern among White House aides over the President?s wide mood swings and obscene outbursts.” That was entertaining stuff, but it was just CHB being CHB. Good for some laughs, but that’s all.

Then this year the National Enquirer reported that Bush was drinking again. “Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster. His worried wife yelled at him: ‘Stop, George.'” Hmmm. The National Enquirer. A step up from CHB, perhaps, but not exactly the most trusted name in news.

But in October, Tom DeFrank reported in the New York Daily News that Bush was frustrated, angry, and bitter. “Presidential advisers and friends say Bush is a mass of contradictions: cheerful and serene, peevish and melancholy.” DeFrank is a legitimate reporter with genuine sources. Maybe there’s something to this after all?

Today, Insight on the News, a Washington Times outlet with close ties to conservatives, reports that Bush has become isolated and feels betrayed by key members of his staff. “The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.”

Needless to say, all of these stories are sourced anonymously and there’s no telling if there’s any truth to any of them. But who are these sources? At the very least, there seem to be a fair number of people who can be plausibly labeled “insiders” and who are gleefully passing along rumors of serious presidential angst. What’s going on?