W. and Me

Walt Harrington has known former President Bush for more than 25 years and wrote a reflection for The American Scholar about his conversations with W over the years.

Twenty-five years later, George W. Bush looks great. Two years as a civilian have been good to him. His feet clad in golf shoes and up on his desk, he leans back in his chair, a well-mouthed, unlit cigar as a prop. At 7:45 A.M., he’s talking golf.

“I didn’t play golf during my presidency except the first two years. So I came back out here, and then I decided I was going to get better at golf, not just play golf.”

“And have you?” I ask.

“I have gotten better. The problem is I’m never good enough. That’s the problem with the game. It requires discipline, patience, and focus. As you know, I’m long on”—and he hesitates, smiling, losing the sentence—“well, a couple areas where I could use some improvement.”

Same W.: sentences broken and jumbled, thoughts careening.

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