July 22, 2005


The (over)exercise of power (Jonathan Chait, LA Times, 7/22/05)

A week ago, when President Bush met with Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III to interview him for a potential Supreme Court nomination, the conversation turned to exercise. When asked by the president of the United States how often he exercised, Wilkinson impressively responded that he runs 3 1/2 miles a day. Bush urged him to adopt more cross-training. "He warned me of impending doom," Wilkinson told the New York Times.

Am I the only person who finds this disturbing?

Posted by David Cohen at July 22, 2005 1:45 PM

No, you're not the only one.

Posted by: See-Dubya at July 22, 2005 1:52 PM

Chait sure has a demanding job. He sits at a keyboard and dribbles out the silliest anti-Bush stuff anybody can produce. I can see how such a crushing burden prevents him from exercising an hour a day. I don't know how he finds time to sleep.

Posted by: Casey Abell at July 22, 2005 2:15 PM

By the way, was Chait equally concerned when Clinton was exercising, er, other body parts?

Posted by: Casey Abell at July 22, 2005 2:19 PM

If Bush really does wish to exercise the kind of dictatorial authority, it is clear he has never read 'Julius Caesar.' "Let me have about me men that are fat" and all that.

It means that those of us whose main forms of exercising are sauteeing, fileting, baking, and picking up the phone to order in are going to have to wait for another Administration to appreciate our talents.

Posted by: bart at July 22, 2005 2:20 PM

I'll bet if Bush ever permitted an interview with Jonathan Chait, half of his answers would be similarly wry and (sometimes) funny, but Chait would write that Bush was the Borg King, come to earth in advance of colonization.

And he would say it with jealousy.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 22, 2005 3:04 PM

Um, wasn't Bush just urging Wilkinson to follow his doctor's advice, after he admitted that he wasn't doing so?

Posted by: b at July 22, 2005 3:15 PM

Stay well, live long, serve on the court 30-40 years. Makes sense to me.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 22, 2005 3:16 PM

The President doesn't watch TV except for sports. How much time does Chait spend watching CNN? How much time does the average American spend watching TV? Excercise is the President's hobby. So?

Not to mention that the President doesn't have to cook, clean, do laundry, etc. like most Americans. (Even most rich people have to do many of these things.) So, this frees up time.

Plus, Chait is just wrong about the benefits of exercise on the mind. It may not make one smarter but it certainly helps concentration. (Not that I personally benefit from my one hour per year [decade?] exercise program.)

Posted by: Bob at July 22, 2005 3:19 PM

What I find disturbing is that a man 30 years older than me with the most stressful job in the world can bench 5 lbs more than I can.

My advise to Wilkinson would have been the same - running can only do so much - you have to get some strength training in as well.

Posted by: Shelton at July 22, 2005 3:38 PM

the ritual of steel (lifting) is the key to vigor and vitality. cardio is great too, but if you have to pick one, pick lifting. i have a bench and weights in my garage, so it's convenient and i don't have to touch other people's sweat.

Posted by: cjm at July 22, 2005 3:59 PM

It's more disturbing that Wilkinson told the New York Times anything about his interview with the president. I guess Bush made the right decision not to appoint him.

Talk about nitpicking? He probably does a lot of his thinking while he's exercising. His job is to make the decisions and issue orders for others to execute. What difference does it make where he is when the decision was made?

He's under so much stress, it's amazing that he seems upbeat and his smile seem so sincere. Whatever works, Mr. President, keep doing it. We need you to stay strong and healthy.

Posted by: erp at July 22, 2005 4:34 PM

Reagan was a fitness nut, too. I recall reading somewhere that the muscle mass built up by weightlifting basically saved his life when he took that bullet in 1981.

And George Washington, it is said, rode a horse every day.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at July 22, 2005 4:42 PM

After a youth lived in riotous indulgence, Bush was graced with a key insight: compose yourself and lead an integrated life. It's Bush's balance and proportion which leads his critics to distraction and not his supposed overemphasis on physical exercise, which is only a pretext to bash.

Posted by: Luciferous at July 22, 2005 5:03 PM

i think cjm has been a bit liberal with the little red pills around here, not that i've got anything at all against exercise or staying healthy and strong.

now, when we have a president whose preferred workout is a couple hours of yoga, we might be able to turn the corner!

and erp, that would be a smirk you mistakenly believe to be sincere.

Posted by: lonbud at July 22, 2005 5:10 PM

July 21, 2005
An Interview By, Not With, the President

WASHINGTON, July 20 - When President Bush sat down in the White House residence last Thursday to interview a potential Supreme Court nominee, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, he asked him about the hardest decision he had ever made - and also how much he exercised.

"Well, I told him I ran three and a half miles a day," Judge Wilkinson recalled in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "And I said my doctor recommends a lot of cross-training, but I said I didn't want to do the elliptical and the bike and the treadmill." The president, Judge Wilkinson said, "took umbrage at that," and told his potential nominee that he should do the cross-training his doctor suggested.

"He thought I was well on my way to busting my knees," said Judge Wilkinson, 60. "He warned me of impending doom."

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 22, 2005 6:18 PM

It sounds like a couple of guys talking about their routines? What's the problem?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 22, 2005 6:20 PM

lonbud. It's a sincere smile. The president doesn't need to smirk, he leaves that for intellectuals like the senior senator from New York aka The Smirk King.

Posted by: erp at July 22, 2005 7:22 PM

Bart said, "It means that those of us whose main forms of exercising are sauteeing, fileting, baking, and picking up the phone to order in are going to have to wait for another Administration to appreciate our talents."

I, like Bart, am eagerly awaiting the return of William Howard Taft.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at July 22, 2005 7:27 PM

Bush told Wilkinson to cross-train because Bush himself was an avid runner, and damaged his knees so much that he can't run anymore - at least not on a regular basis.

A beneficial exercise routine NEED NOT take an hour a day, nor cost a lot of money, nor does it need a lot of equipment.

Thirty minutes will do it, and it can be as simple as walking two miles at a brisk pace.

If you have convenient access to a pool or free weights, so much the better.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at July 23, 2005 2:29 AM

The benefits of exercise (or staying in shape) on mental accuity is pretty well documented.

I'm still in shcok that Chait thinks his job is harder than the President's.

Posted by: AWW at July 23, 2005 11:40 AM

Only in America could a drunken fratboy with a lead tongue pull himself out of a gutter one morning, pledge his soul to Jesus, and find himself in control of his nation shortly thereafter. You'd be smirking too.

Posted by: Al Cornpone at July 23, 2005 5:56 PM

Only in America could a serial sexual abuser find his way to the White House, and then get serviced while on the phone with Congress.

Posted by: ratbert at July 23, 2005 7:08 PM

Only as a Democrat could one do what WJC did (which some of us might call sexual misconduct) and get a pass.

Posted by: Dave W. at July 23, 2005 7:45 PM

dave: well, duh. everyone knows republicans are far too repressed to even have a go at it.

erp: try to imagine me smirking, because i am. ;-)

Posted by: lonbud at July 23, 2005 10:49 PM


Well, Bob Packwood may not have been as much fun, as say, Wilbur Mills, but I doubt if he was 'repressed'. Of course, not many here at BJB would call him a true Republican. :>)

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 23, 2005 11:58 PM

Lonbud, are condoning sexual misconduct? I'm gonna go out and do some yoga [yah right]. going to church, spending time with my family and taking a nap are a few of the ways I release the stresses I've got repressed in my republican inner-being.

Posted by: Phil at July 24, 2005 1:30 PM