President Bush went in this morning for his annual physical exam, checking in to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for a long morning of tests which should yield at least a scintilla of good news on this troubling first day of August. The president is in great shape – physically, if not politically. But more on that later.There’s something perfect about the symbolism. As large swaths of the country sweat it out in the heat, and those of us with air conditioning sweat out spiraling energy costs, and those of us without—also most likely not to have health coverage—sweat out their very survival, and our soldiers sweat it out in Iraq and Afghanistan, and warriors and civilians sweat it out in Israel and Lebanon, President Bush coolly passes a stress test in an air conditioned medical center.
There's a glacier melting somewhere. And so am I. They are predicting highs of 100 degrees Farenheit today, tomorrow and Thursday here in the nation's capital. But temperatures already have pushed past 100 degrees from Los Angeles to Bismarck, N.D., and word arrived this morning of an electrical power outage in Chicago, which should make for more woe. Around here, they tell us to not even wander outside, if we don't have to, on days like these. They warn us about a Code Red. And that's not Homeland Security talking. That's the Health Department. Maybe I'll call in Red.
For Bush, the political good news is that his job-approval rating has held about steady through perhaps the roughest weekend of the summer…
But for Bush, the political bad news is that job-approval rating: 40 percent approval, according to the results of a weekend Gallup Poll released today.
…Some contend that the U.S. is unable to play its traditional role of "honest broker'' in the Middle East in the current crisis, partly because of the three years of costly warfare that the U.S. has waged in Iraq and partly because of the solid support that the Bush administration has provided for Israel, with the U.S. laying the blame for the conflict on Hezbollah.
But Michele Dunne, an expert in Arab affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, suggests that the Bush administration is not doing more because it is simply unwilling to engage in "the nitty-gritty'' of the diplomacy needed to bring an end to hostilities.
…It's a lot to think about, as they crank up the treadmill under the 60-year-old president this morning. It'll be air-conditioned in Bethesda. And if the past is prologue, the president ought to pass his stress test with flying colors. But it's hot here in Washington these days, it's hot in the Middle East, and November is beginning to look a little hotter every day.
Which, by the way, reminds me of this month last summer: “As his limo passes by protesters holding pictures of Casey Sheehan, is he really thinking about how fortunate he is not to be Cindy, or instead about the bitter irony of escaping a fate like Casey’s only to condemn another generation? Or does he just see the trickles of sweat running down their brows from standing in the hot Texas sun, and ask his driver to turn up the air conditioning, as he turns away and closes his eyes?”