08.18.07 -- 10:09AM
By Steve Benen
In August 2001, the president read a memo titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US." Bush didn't much care, telling his CIA briefer, "All right. You've covered your ass, now."
In August 2007, the president read a style article in a mid-size newspaper about the clothes he wears in Crawford. About this, Bush cared very much.
What really gets George W. Bush riled up? Calling him a fashion victim.
Last week, Marques Harper of the Austin American-Statesman wrote a short piece about the president's sartorial style on his Texas ranch, where Bush is spending a two-week vacation. The article was reprinted Tuesday in a Waco, Tex., paper, and the leader of the free world was not pleased.
Harper received a phone call that morning from White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, who, Harper told friends, said the president read the article and was unhappy about the way he was portrayed.
First, this comes just days after Karl Rove told Rush Limbaugh about the president's healthy, above-the-fray attitude about criticism in the media. Rove boasted, "The president is very good about saying, 'Look, we came here for a reason. We have an obligation on the country,' and press on by it. I'll be hyperventilating about the latest attack on him by somebody, and he'll say, 'Don't worry. History will get it right and we'll both be dead.' So it's a good, healthy attitude about how to take it." I guess that doesn't apply to his fashion sense.
Second, the article itself was entirely benign, noting that Bush has "opted to look more like 'Walker, Texas Ranger' than a sweaty, tough ranch hand." This mild remark in a brief article was enough for the spokesperson for the President of the United States to call a style reporter for a mid-size newspaper to convey the disappointment of the leader of the free world.
And third, I've heard rumors that George W. Bush is a charming fellow who's easy to get along with. Policies aside, he's supposed to be a "great guy." I don't buy it. Incidents like this one make the president sound temperamental and immature.
Indeed, if we take the White House pitch at face value, Bush is a tough guy, hardened by war, and unconcerned about pettiness -- unless the Austin American-Statesman says something vaguely derogatory about his clothes?