Friday, July 16, 2004

The Character of George W. Bush

This is what I believe exemplifies George W. Bush:
There's this young Army National Guard sergeant lying in bed at an Army hospital.
He's really down. He lost his right leg to a landmine in Afghanistan. Lot of hustle and bustle out in the hall. Someone's coming to visit the wounded.
Turns out it's the President of the United States.
He stops by the young sergeant's bed. They talk. It's a little awkward. What do you say to a guy that loves to run, loves physical activity, and now his leg is gone from the knee down. But this sergeant tries to be upbeat and he's been told all about prosthetic legs and he has resolved that, dammit, one day he'll run again.
The President is impressed. Tell you what, he says to the sergeant, let's keep in touch and when you're ready to run a mile I'll run it with you.
Yeah, sure.
But, sure enough, a year and a half later, there's this young sergeant in shorts and an Army windbreaker, running on his prosthetic leg. And running beside him? The President of the United States.

* * *
Sgt. McNaughton wasn't sure about "just calling" the President of the United States, but through one of the Walter Reed doctors, the two kept in touch during his months of slow recovery and therapy.
One rainy day this past April, Sgt. McNaughton and his family were guests at the White House. President Bush and the sergeant went up to the weight room on the second floor of the Executive Mansion. There they worked out and chatted for almost an hour. Bush was fascinated by McNaughton's new "leg" and asked many questions about it.
Then they went out in the rain to run. Just the two of them. "I didn't care if it was storming or lightning all around," Sgt. McNaughton later told a Baton Rouge television reporter. "I didn't care. It was nice to run with him."

* * *
I don't know the exact words President Bush used when bantering with Sgt. McNaughton.
But I know he kept his word.

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