Given the importance of his job, it is astonishing how much time Bush has to exercise. His full schedule is not publicly available. The few peeks we get at Bush's daily routine usually come when some sort of disaster prods the White House Press Office to reveal what the president was doing "at the time." Earlier this year, an airplane wandered into restricted Washington air space. Bush, we learned, was bicycling in Maryland. In 2001, a gunman fired shots at the White House. Bush was inside exercising. When planes struck the World Trade Center in 2001, Bush was reading to schoolchildren, but that morning he had gone for a long run with a reporter. Either this is a series of coincidences or Bush spends an enormous amount of time working out.
My guess is that Bush associates exercise with discipline, and associates a lack of discipline with his younger, boozehound days. "The president," said Fleischer, "finds [exercise] very healthy in terms of ... keeping in shape. But it's also good for the mind." The notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly. (Consider all the perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood - or, perhaps, the president himself.) But Bush's apparent belief in it explains why he would demand well-conditioned economic advisors and Supreme Court justices.
Bush's insistence that the entire populace follow his example, and that his staff join him on a Long March - er, Long Run - carries about it the faint whiff of a cult of personality. It also shows how out of touch he is. It's nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does.
Gee, working out every day, planning where to go on his next vacation - being president really is hard work. I wish he'd do more of it at the office. On the other hand, as bad as he fucks things up with every new executive decision, maybe I'm glad he doesn't spend more time there.