Biographer says Bush is a bully, but not dumb
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, November 5, 2007 6:28PM EST
The author of a recent biography on George W. Bush shot down some of the president's more unflattering stereotypes Monday, saying that while Bush can be a bully, he certainly isn't dumb.
"I realize because of his mangling of the English language and because he sometimes can be awfully stubborn, such that he refuses facts on the ground, people will think he's some kind of lame brain," Robert Draper said while speaking to CTV Newsnet from Austin, Texas.
On Monday, the author of "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush," a character study of the 43rd President of the United States, attempted to set the record straight on perceptions often used by analysts, media and satirists.
"He has a very aggressive intellect and is very good at getting to the heart of the matter, to assimilating data, to stripping apart the logic of other people's points," he said.
And Draper should know. The correspondent for GQ Magazine was given unprecedented access to the president and his staff while writing the book, including six personal interviews with Bush as well as meetings with former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Laura Bush, as well as other White House staff.
"By 2004, no credible biography that was sort of even-handed and attempted to cover the totality of his presidency had yet been written, and I just sort of appointed myself his biographer," he said.
The book, released in September, was received positively for its look into Bush's character. The New York Times said Draper, at times too admiring, also "unhesitatingly supplies devastating evidence of the characteristics that have helped to produce the disasters of the Bush presidency."
Draper, who wrote a profile of then-Gov. Bush for GQ in 1998 and also covered him while writing for Texas Monthly, does not always paint Bush favourably, calling him a bully at times and unwilling to debate his moral precepts.
At one point during his conversation with CTV Newsnet anchor Dan Matheson, Draper said Bush often came off as intellectually "incurious."
"Things that don't immediately engage him, he will instead allow others to focus on," he said. "When it came to Iraq, he was very, very deferential to the generals on the ground, and to (former Secretary of Defense) Donald Rumsfeld. And I think that was very much to the detriment of his policy."
One perception Draper debunked was one of Bush as a puppet for members of his senior staff -- an idea often played upon by such political satirists as John Stewart.
In fact, in "Dead Certain," Draper writes of an early failed dissention within the Bush camp, as Rove tried to convince Bush not to announce Cheney as his running mate before the 2000 election.
"He is however very much a big dog, very much the guy in the room that takes the oxygen out of the room," Draper said. "So for better, for worse, this is very much his presidency. He has not farmed it out to anybody else."