Physically Fit or Just Plain Vain?
In the film "Welcome to Mooseport," a former president played by Gene Hackman erroneously believes himself to be a pretty good golfer because, unknown to him, Secret Service agents have always hidden themselves around the course and tossed his errant drives back onto the fairway. From everything I've heard, the current resident is a much better cyclist than Hackman's character was a golfer, but the recent attention devoted to W's cycling exploits has drawn out at least one similarity--both men are allowed to believe that carefully controlled situations are the same as reality. Bush can declare himself the leader of the pack even as the Secret Service instructs his fellow riders that under no circumstances are they to pass the self-deluded little chimp. Likewise, he pats himself on the back for his optimal blood pressure and low cholesterol level even as he enjoys the kind of publicly funded health care that his policies deny to a nation suffering from an epidemic of obesity and Type II diabetes.
By contrast back in 1961, a physically limited, but nonetheless quite active, President Kennedy created the President's Council on Physical Fitness, which urged schools to adopt fitness guidelines. (I can still remember receiving my certificate in the second grade.) One does not need to romanticize the Kennedy presidency to see how successful the Right has been at choking off the government's commitment to providing for public health and welfare.
Although Hackman's character, as is generally the case in films, is brought around to seeing himself and the world around him without the protective lenses of his administration's handlers, there's no chance that Bush is ever going to see the light. The real issue is whether or not those of us among the Administration's opposition can build an effective movement that produces real alternatives for our domestic and foreign policies.