Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Inside Story Behind Draper's Interviews with George W. Bush


Robert Draper has an excellent piece in this month's GQ detailing his 6 interviews with George W. Bush that he conducted for his book, Dead Certain. If you haven't read the book, you should. It's one of the best biographies of a sitting president I've read and gives tremendous insight in the person behind the Oval Office desk.

Draper's GQ article is just as fascinating as he recounts how he penetrated the wall of staff that inevitably circle to protect a sitting president--particularly one that is struggling. He also explains that the Bush he thought he knew was not the Bush he ended up coming to know: "Throughout my three-year reportorial odyssey inside the Bush White House, I heard numerous testimonials from uniformly sane, intelligent individuals who gushed with praise about one of the most unpopular presidents in recorded history. At times their admiration reminded me of the Beltway dupes in the movie Being There who elevated the vapid utterances of an idiot gardener to Moses-like sagacity. At other times, I understood exactly what they meant. Casual and smirky but also highly self-disciplined and a peerless listener; at times bullying and snappish but also gracious, self-deprecating, and ultimately humble…simple and not at all simple—but definitely, memorably compelling. That’s the guy I see."

Ultimately, Draper's interpretation of President Bush is much more complex than the caricature most believe. His book and the GQ article paint the picture of a fascinating individual and fascinating presidency that has impacted the country and the world far more than almost anyone would have predicted at the outset.

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