With the departure of Karl Rove from the White House, it has been said that George Bush has lost his "brain". Others, less kindly, have portrayed George W as near-enough to an incoherent, bumbling incompetent. The ever-sharp and witty Clive James, opening the Melbourne Writer's Festival the other day, commented that he thought that America, somewhat surprisingly, had come a long way in electing a President whose native language wasn't English.
Now, on the cusp of George W arriving in Australia for the APEC conference, The Guardian has published a piece [now also reproduced in the Fairfax press today] in which the President was interviewed and explained himself and what he will do post retirement from the presidency. It is probably fair to say, objectively, that George W is vacuous:
"Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life after the White House to conflict resolution around the world. Presidents George Bush the elder and Bill Clinton have campaigned together on behalf of communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina. So how does President George Bush junior imagine spending his retirement years?
"I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch," he says. He also has big plans for making money. "I'll give some speeches, to replenish the ol' coffers," says Mr Bush, who is already estimated to be worth $20m. "I don't know what my dad gets - it's more than 50-75 [thousand dollars a speech], and "Clinton's making a lot of money".
The insights into Mr Bush's ambitions once he steps down from the most powerful job on Earth in January 2009 are contained in a series of interviews he gave to a journalist from GQ magazine. It may be that the writer, Robert Draper, comes from Texas, like his subject, but whatever the reason, Mr Bush has chosen to be singularly open with the author and provide a rare glimpse into the inner life of a very private president."