In a rare break from form, former President George W. Bush expressed an understanding that Obama is "having a difficult go," and offered a few seldom-heard comments on the presidency.
"I'm not surprised," Bush said in an interview to the Huffington Post during his annual Warrior 100K three-day mountain bike race, held each year around Memorial Day on his 1,500-acre ranch. There were 75 veterans at the event, 13 of whom had been wounded in the very wars Bush had started.
"I think that if you study the modern presidency, two-term presidents have a different set of issues on their second term than their first term," he said. "One thing's for certain. After seven or eight years, people are beginning to say, 'Surely we can do better than this.' Secondly, the unexpected happens, and if you look at Ronald Reagan or Clinton or myself — myself in particular — there's a kind of fatigue."
It was an unusually candid statement for the former president, who slipped almost entirely into silence after leaving office five years ago — which, by his own admission, frequently annoys those at the Bush Institute who would like him to speak out more. Apart from the occasional public appearance and recent library opening, Bush has kept himself largely out of the limelight — which, he says, was good for him.
"I don't long for [fame]. Nor do I long for power. I've come to realize that power can be corrosive if you've had it for too long. It can dim your vision … I don't long for fame. And really, gonna shy away from it."
"Fame can become very addictive," he added. "And I've had all the fame a man could want."
When asked about the controversy surrounding Obama's drone program, Bush seemed to approach it from a different angle. "He's charting a course that he is comfortable with," he said. "I tend to look at it not from the political side of things, although obviously almost everything is political. I tend to look at it from a historical perspective. I'm obviously a student of the presidency. I've read a lot about it and plus I was one. And it's just amazing how history repeats itself."
It remains to be seen how history will view the two men, though it's looking all the more likely that they may go down together. Iraq and Afghanistan were handed down from one administration to the other, as were the hyper-controversial Guantanamo Bay prison and drone programs. Both men have attempted to navigate a new kind of warfare in a 21st century world, and both did it under the shadow of the 9/11 attacks.
"I'm not surprised the president is having a difficult go," Bush admitted. "It's part of the presidency. It's one of the challenges of the presidency, is how do you deal with this?"