[A]ccording to allies inside and outside the White House, Bush's mood remains buoyant and his attention is focused on the global financial collapse. In private meetings with business leaders, Bush has made a point of saying that he is happy the crisis happened on his watch so the next president and a new economic team do not have to grapple with it.Read the whole thing. My heart goes out to President Bush, even as I plan to vote for Barack Obama tomorrow. One thing I don't like about John McCain is that he never showed respect for Bush. He was all about distancing himself from Bush, but if it's distance you want from Bush, there's Obama. And Obama had no reason to defend the other party's President, but for all his criticism of Bush's policies, I don't remember Obama taking ugly potshots at Bush. McCain treated Bush like an outcast. Was there even a word of defense for the man who protected us from terrorist attacks for 7 years?
"His high energy level and spirit sets the tone for the rest of us," said Kevin Sullivan, Bush's communications director. "There's been no time to worry about any of this other stuff. . . . He believes the American people expect us to finish strong and to leave things in the best possible position for his successor."
Others inside and outside the administration, however, say the upbeat talk masks disappointment and frustration among many White House staffers, who believe Bush's reputation has been unfairly maligned for a series of calamities -- from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to the financial crisis -- that were beyond his control and that he handled well. GOP nominee John McCain's escalating attacks on Bush's tenure have added to the irritation, these people said.
"Everybody kind of wanted to spend the last 100-plus days doing some legacy things, and the financial crisis has thrown a wrench into that," said one prominent Republican who regularly talks with senior White House officials.
"You have a combination of no legacy stuff, a horrible economic mess and the likelihood that Obama is going to win," this person added. "There is a real sadness there."
For the first time in recent memory, a sitting president has effectively sat out the presidential race, avoiding public appearances on behalf of McCain and other Republicans and raising far less money than usual in private fundraisers. Bush voted for McCain by absentee ballot rather than voting in person in Texas, as he has for the past three elections, and officials say he plans to spend election night at the White House rather than at a rally or other campaign-related event.I seem to recall Al Gore giving Bill Clinton the cold shoulder. Al Gore lost -- not by much, but he should have won by a lot that year.
Aides say privately that Bush long ago made peace with his low approval ratings, which have persisted despite significant improvements in Iraq, the original source of his polling woes. Some current and former aides argue that Bush's unpopularity has made it easier for him to push ahead with difficult decisions, such as a series of dramatic interventions into the financial markets that have angered conservatives over the past two months.We Americans like an optimistic, cheerful President. Look back over the past elections. Doesn't the more affable man always win? Including this year?
"You're more liberated to act when you've internalized those low approval ratings," said Pete Wehner, a former top Bush adviser. "This is a White House and a president that are in some ways galvanized by a crisis."...
There is little outward sign of irritation from Bush, who has maintained a sense of good cheer...
That enduring, frat-boy enthusiasm is exactly the sort of thing that riles his detractors, but supporters say Bush's optimism has been central to his political survival....