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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bushies At Work(out)

Michael Crowley over at &c. has drawn attention to a Jonathan Chait column in the L.A. Times this summer that I missed, about George W. Bush’s “creepy” obsession with the exercise habits of his staff. As Crowley points out, this obsession may have something to do with Bush’s close bond with Harriet Miers, who not only helped him clear brush down at the ranch, but has also gone running with her idol on occasion, matching him step for step. I realize that “working out” is something of a bipartisan obsession among young political folk in Washington. I’m constantly amused at twenty-something colleagues who care barely afford to rent a rabbit warren, and who live on reception food and dollar beer specials, but who invariably have expensive gym memberships. “You’re at an age where your body will forgive you anything,” I occasionally say to them. “Junk that monthly gym fee, and you could probably eat lunch more than twice a week, or take the big step up from 3.2 beer to Sierra Nevada.” But in Bush’s White House, the working-out thing seems to be a priority unlimited by age. And this must warm the well-exercised heart of Gary Aldrich, the former FBI agent who penned a tell-all book that focused on the devolution in body-shapes and overall personal grooming between the Bush 41 and Clinton White Houses (a theme similar to the paradise-lost maunderings of Linda Tripp, who also considered the Democratic invasion of the White House something of a Sack of Rome). When Aldrich’s book first appeared, I figured he was just a semi-fascistic outlier who cashed in on the bottomless right-wing appetite for anti-Clinton material. But there seems to be a pattern here: who cares if the White House “works” in Democratic administrations, and doesn’t in Republican administrations; the real question is whether it “works out.”Betcha “Brownie” was a real Spartan.

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